boundary setting, from family to friends

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

Boundary setting in relation to inner care is so important to explore. I feel as though we reference boundary setting so often without pausing to understand why it's integral and positive to our growth. So, I want to offer this: We are on borrowed time and we are here to be great humans and impact this world using our God-given gifts, that's our purpose. If someone or something adds to your life things that hinder you from that, you must create a boundary to protect it. If someone or something robs you of your smile or joy, or takes up time negatively to where you are distracted from being your best self so you can carry out what you were born to do on this Earth, it requires a boundary. Boundaries are necessary for self-preservation and necessary as protection for your ultimate purpose.

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I also want to offer a few points that I came up with in reflection on this topic as I re-visited past conversations, pondered over what I have experienced to be slight misconceptions or misunderstandings about boundary setting:

1) Boundary setting is a requirement for inner peace and higher functioning

2) People will use as much of you as you offer

3) Using boundary setting as a weapon is harm, not healing

4) Grace and boundaries aren't opposite one another. I know it seems like an oxymoron to use boundaries and grace in the same sentence, but they do coexist in the sense that boundaries are for you to set, grace is for you to give others when they may not have the capacity to meet your expectations and to give yourself when you're adjusting to the boundaries you've set

5) There are levels to these boundaries, it is not always all or nothing

Family—Boundaries not needing to be all or nothing really hits home with family as I know a lot of folks struggle to grasp how to effectively set boundaries with family members or wonder if it's actually possible to even do so effectively. Setting boundaries with family is unique and I want to point out that there are different forms of boundary setting. There are physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries that can be set, and most times, not all types of boundary setting are applicable to familial relationships. For instance, if you live in the same household, share a room, share children, it might be impossible to set permanent physical boundaries, but you can set an emotional one. An example would be that while you occupy the same physical space, you may not need to share important or sensitive details about your life with that person, you can limit the types and frequency of conversations you have, and you can practice managing your emotional responses to them or your emotional investments in them. If there is a bit of guilt associated with your need to create boundaries with family, you can adopt a one-sided spiritual boundary in that you pray for them (and everyone needs to be prayed for, sometimes I think that's a such a huge part of being someone's family, you will always have someone to pray for you). Sometimes, in some really deep and situations, that might be all you can do and in doing so, you can honor that family member, but not at the expense of your well-being.

Friends—Giving grace can be applied everywhere, but in friendships is where I see the need for it most or at least where I see it helping to mend issues or manage expectations. I'd like for us to consider this, that what people water you with is simply what they have left over. And that's okay because if you are taking care of yourself, everything else is just in abundance, which is why inner care, self-love, and self-healing, is my focus. People simply may not have enough water in the bucket to pour into their plant and yours, even if they wanted to. I mention that because we oftentimes rely on our friends for more than they can give and that creates great tension. We have to give grace to people when they are giving all they can, but it may not be enough. We have to give grace, even if it turns out to be best that space between you and the friend is needed. When you recognize that you must set a boundary with a friend because they haven't been able to better themselves, and therefore incapable of being great to you, give them grace as you create the space for distance.

That said, it's really important to note that if you have a friend and what they are offering is actually harmful and toxic to your growth, remove it if it's past repair to ensure that your growth isn't being stunted. You are not here to be the recipient of harm or abuse due to unresolved trauma. I want to point out that people who hurt others do so because they are hurt. If someone hasn't been able to heal, they won't have healthy things to offer you. You can wish them well as you honor space away from them.

Work— Work is actually a great, and sometimes trying, place to practice boundary setting. For most, work is not an option, especially now in the midst of a pandemic. However, whether you work from home or not, it'll be really important to set boundaries to preserve your well-being. That means, if work is done at 4pm, you are not doing anything related to work after 3:59pm. Since most of the hours you will spend awake are at work, be mindful and very choosy about the work-relationships, friendships, and conversations you engage in so that within your work space, you are creating, from what you can control, the best and most optimal work environment.

Self—you be trying your spirit, your mental, say no to negative self-talk, do not attempt to pick up what you know you cannot carry.

Are you considering setting boundaries, but unsure if you need to or are afraid to do so? I've put together five questions to help you do the inner work.

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