Sometimes setting boundaries can be not just complicated, but difficult. Often we know in our hearts where our boundaries lie, as they transform and take shape with maturity, but knowing how to implement them appropriately is a thing to be learned. We are supposed to begin learning healthy boundaries in early childhood, but circumstances and socialization issues can so quickly lead to an array of issues.
I did not know how to set healthy boundaries for a very long time. I did not have a filter and I was not sure what was good and bad for me, as all my instincts had gone awry. This could be chalked up to undiagnosed ADD, depression and anxiety, a lack of ability to appropriately cope with life, the early age at which I started altering my state of mind… ad infinitum. My parents and my siblings were excellent assistance in learning many important boundaries, but outside of the home I struggled. This continued well into adulthood and I seemed to consistently find myself on the wrong side of a lack of being able to find balance in relationships. As I continued into my addiction, it only got worse.
You see, I struggle with moderation and appropriate self-expression at times, including knowing when to give and when to take. I would tend to always say yes to people, even when I didn’t want to. I would give of myself to others, but I truly did not know how to receive, and would even go so far as to reject (insert giving of whatever here). I was codependent yet absurdly self-sufficient and reliant, all at the same time. I struggled with boundaries in all areas of my life for many years.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servent of Christ. Galatians 1:10
Today that struggle is not so much a struggle, as it is a normal issue in when and how to set appropriate boundaries. While I am always open and willing to help others, I recognize the need to take care of myself as well. I can express emotion without being overbearing, and can better recognize social cues and when I need to back off. I also have learned that it is okay to say no, even if society pressures me to say yes. I have learned that I cannot please everyone, and not everyone is going to understand my own personal strengths and limitations. Growing in my relationship with Jesus and remaining in a sober mind and body has both given me discernment and a Savior to guide me when I don’t know the right thing to do.
But it is the spirit in a person, the breath of the Almighty, that gives them understanding. Job 32:8
Leaning on the Lord for all things, He has shown me how to take care of myself so that I may give of myself. He lays truth on my heart so clearly that it is difficult to ignore. I have been able to learn how to behave in society, amongst my fellows, and also how to be with myself. I am comfortable in both situations, more often than not, and no longer need to walk around with a wall up surrounding me, because I have learned how to implement healthy boundaries.
These boundaries are different in definition and execution for everyone. I know what I can and can not handle; what I can and can not do. Sometimes I still struggle, and when I do I go to Jesus in prayer for guidance, and speak to those He has placed in my life that offer good council. We are ever growing, ever changing, and we should not be afraid of this. While uncomfortable at times, I would rather be growing than stagnant, and rather disappoint someone than fully let them down because I couldn’t set a healthy boundary. I no longer feel like my life is out of control, with inexplicable feelings of guilt, fear, powerlessness and anger. When any feelings like that crop up, I pray. Today I recognize they are usually self-inflicted and there is always a way to heal and learn.