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  • judeblackwell

Boundaries - Part 1

Updated: Apr 19, 2022

I have finally finished reading this book!

It’s this book that has delayed my weekly update as my next few updates will be offshoots and thoughts incurred from reading the book.

If this book had been a novel, the 328 pages would have taken me less than a day to read. As it is though it is full of little gems and has taken me over three weeks to get though. I wouldn’t say it was an easy read but it has been very thought provoking. I have found myself asking many questions regarding my own thoughts and behaviours, along with how the information sits within my counselling room. The book is written by two Christian counsellors and has a lot of references to the bible and a lot of the scenarios are based in a church setting. If you don’t believe in the bible, don’t let this put you off. The information is really helpful, the overview will show why. – If it is too much then an alternative book I’ve flicked though and seems to have similar thoughts is Set Boundaries Find Peace by Nedra Glover Tawwab – I haven’t read this book only flicked through it so I’m not currently recommending it, but rather letting you know of its existence.

There is so much in the book the overview will be posted in two parts.

Why did I find this book so important that I wanted my next update to be about it?

Boundaries are important – they help us lead full lives. We so often take on things because we feel it’s our duty, or we do it out of guilt or it’s the right thing to do. – but in taking these things on, we miss out on family time, meetings with friends, that relaxing night where you can catch up on much needed rest. we don’t realise that by helping others we are neglecting and exhausting ourselves. This book goes into that. It helps to recognise the boundary breaches and how we can change to become more confident. To value, love and respect ourselves. Bringing truth, order, control and responsibility to our lives giving us more freedom and choices.

The book is split into 3 sections

Part 1 – What are boundaries

Part 2 – Boundary Conflicts

Part 3 – Developing healthy boundaries

It’s a book that you can dip in and out of but the scenarios run through the book – there are going to be very few occasions that the whole book will be relevant to one person – which is what makes it hard to read but just when you feel that a chapter could be skipped you will read something that can translate to a different situation and is really quite revealing.

The below is taken directly from the book – occasionally I may rephrase due to the scenario references and Bible verses.

Boundaries – Where we end and someone else begins

We all have personal boundaries, personal property lines in our relationship with others and ourselves. Sometimes those boundaries are strong, sometimes weak, sometimes they are broken because they have been breached and we struggle to repair them, or create them at all. Sometimes our boundaries are the wrong way round and we keep the bad in and the good out, but let more pain in.

Boundaries are there to protect us. Our sense of self, our relationships, our time. They enable us to reach our full potential, and fulfil our tasks and go about our daily lives.

Boundaries do not just happen; they are formed though loving relationships. Formation begins during our early years as we begin to leave our carers side and explore the world around us. They keep developing as we grow and learn what we like and what we don’t like, what is our responsibility and what is not. They define who we are and who we are not. Just like property boundaries they need to be maintained, defended and respected.

We have to deal with ourselves, our soul. We are responsible for it’s safe keeping. How can we do this if we don’t know where it begins or ends or our understanding of the parameters are wrong. Knowing what I am and taking responsibility gives me freedom. Owning my life gives freedom to do what I can and gives different options. However, if I do not take that responsibility my choices and options become limited.

Our parameters show us what we are responsible for and what we are not – Family and relationships can sometimes confuse us as to what those boundaries are. We are responsible for ourselves and to others. We are responsible for our feelings, attitudes, behaviours. We are not responsible for others though when things get tough for them – issues become too big for them to manage we then come alongside them, assist them, teach them, help them, enable them. It is not our responsibility to take responsibility for them, do it for them. This includes children who are adults. In the same way we should not put our responsibility on others – Seek help and assistance when needed but not pass over the responsibility.

Examples of boundaries

1. Skin

2. Words

3. Truth

4. Geographical distance

5. Time

6. Emotional distance

What’s within my boundaries and therefore my responsibility

1. Feelings – these are a sign of the health of our relationships – with others and ourselves. They should not be put in charge or ignored.

2. Attitudes and beliefs – Attitudes have to do with your orientation towards something, the stance you take towards others. Beliefs are anything you accept as true.

3. Behaviours – these have consequences good behaviour reap good results. Bad behaviour reaps bad consequences – issues arise when someone interrupts this flow in someone else’s life.

4. Choices – Taking responsibility for our choices leads to self-control. Problems arise when we don’t take responsibility and lay it on someone else. “I had to” “they made me” These phrases show our illusions that we are not active agents in our choices, we think someone else is in control thus relieving us of responsibility. We need to realise we are in control of our choices. We make them and we should be responsible for their consequences.

5. Values – What we value is what we assign importance to. – often, we do not take responsibility for what we value.

6. Limits –there are two types of limits. Setting limits on others whose poor behaviour affects us and setting our own internal limits. – Self-control without repression. WE need to have space within ourselves where we can have a thought, feeling, impulse or desire without acting it out.

7. Resources and gifts – taking ownership of these can be frightening and always risky. We are always happier when we are exercising/using our talents and gifts. – We are being productive.

8. Thoughts – Our minds and thoughts are an important reflection of us – no other creature on earth has our thinking ability. We must – own our own thoughts

- Grow in knowledge

- Clarify distorted thinking

Taking ownership of our thinking in relationships requires being active in check out where we might be wrong. Assimilating new information and changing our thinking.

It’s also important to communicate our thoughts – our family and friends are not mind readers.

9. Desires – We need to own our desires but be aware that some desires are lusts masquerading as desires. Once we own the “real me” we can own our real desires

10. Love – Our ability to give and respond to love is our greatest gift. Our heart is the centre of our being. It’s ability to open up to love and allow love to flow out is crucial to life.

11. Respecting other’s boundaries – Pushing others boundaries causes them pain, we damage them in doing so – we are responsible for our own boundaries and supporting others with theirs. (This last one is an add in that is made clear in the book but not stated).

Examples that show there may be a boundary issue (taken from the scenarios)

1. Finding that you are always rushing/late for appointments and meetings

2. Not having time for your immediate family (wife/husband/children)

3. Continuously bailing out a family member or friend. – lending money/paying for them, cleaning up after them, sorting things out on their behalf, making appointment and cancelling them. Attending appointments with them that are just for them.

4. Fear of - hurting other people’s feeling stops you saying no and being hurt yourself.

- Abandonment and separation

- Someone else’s anger

- Punishment

- Being shamed

- Being seen ad bad or selfish

- Your own over-strict/critical conscience (guilt)

5. Compliance/Avoidance

6. Finding your no is worn down/persuaded/tricked (manipulated) to become yes

7. Finding that you are continuously feeling hurt by others responses/lack of responses

Setting boundaries and maintaining them is hard work, but worth it. You find that you are enjoying life and have time for those important relationships and hobbies. You find you are living with a peace in your soul. You are no-longer rushing everything and being stressed because you don’t have enough time in the day. Because you have time for self-care you are no-longer permanently exhausted. You are confident in who you are and your abilities – you achieve more and are more satisfied with life.

The next update will look at how boundaries are created, and how we can implement them.

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