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I recently did a live broadcast all about one thing that I have done that has had the most profound effect on my quality of life and happiness is to create boundaries in my life. Yes, as a Jesus follower I am certainly called to love but I am in no way called to be a doormat or to endure abuse and neither are you. So many people life unhappy lives because they are afraid to set up and enforce boundaries in their lives. You only get one life, and Jesus didn’t die for you to live it and be miserable.
So what are boundaries?
Boundaries are how you define what is and isn’t acceptable in your life.
How do you establish boundaries in your life?
Boundaries are how you teach people to treat you. Yes, I said teach. What you allow teaches others how you can be treated. They are how you define what you will and won’t put up with. What is and what isn’t allowed in your world. It’s important that you understand that you are not responsible for other people, but yourself instead. Yes there are times when you should help others but we must all do our own part in the world and sometimes people don’t and that’s when problems happen.
Words are important when establishing boundaries. Communicating is key. One of the most powerful words is NO. Saying no can be freeing. Learning to say no to things that aren’t good for you and don’t move you forward can change your life.
A powerful phrase that can be used to set up boundaries is “I don’t like it when…” you criticize me, you put me down, you call me names, you yell at me, you cut me off when I am speaking, you bring up that subject, you are negative…on and on. These are clear messages that explain something that makes you uncomfortable. If the person continues to do what you say bothers you, remove yourself from the situation.
Physical distance is another way to set up boundaries. Some situations and relationships will require you to physically remove yourself from them. Even Jesus removed Himself from both at times. This can be permanent or temporary. By removing yourself you are saying that it is something you will no longer tolerate and it gives people a wake up call. They can either choose to correct their behavior or they have the consequence of not being around you.
Now this may sound harsh, but think about it. How many times have you kept someone in your life because you don’t want to hurt them only to wind up miserable in your own life? Sometimes that leads to abuse. By taking authority over what you will and won’t allow in your life, you are creating your own happiness. That isn’t being selfish or cruel. By telling someone what you don’t like and making it clear what you won’t be around, they ultimately have the choice of changing thier behavior or not. That is their responsibility. You are responsible for your actions. We need to take responsibility for our own choices and if they don’t, then they have made the decison.
You cannot control or change how another person behaves but you can choose how you respond. Some people will never change and that is their choice, you choose whether you can continue the relationship and behavior or not. You can limit your exposure to them. There is nothing to feel guilty about either. Being around people that tear you down is not good for you. By taking control, you are taking responsibility.
A lot of times the fear of being alone keeps people in situations that are joy suckers or dangerous. Fear is a lie from the pit of hell and I detest it. It stopped me for many years and I am passionate about helping people to conquer it. The enemy uses it to keep us from walking in all that God has for us and I rebuke it! Honestly, I would rather be alone and with the Lord than to ever be abused again. Lonely beats abuse and negativity any day. If you let go of toxic people and relationships, you make room for healthy ones.
To learn more about boundaries I suggest reading the book Boundaries which you can find HERE!