You may have heard about boundaries before, but do you really understand them? This article is going to help you understand what boundaries are and why you need them to thrive in relationships (and parenting).
First, let’s define three different boundaries:
A boundary can be a border or line on a map. For example, when my boys and I studied cartography a couple years ago, we became very familiar with the ending of one country and the beginning of another because of the physical boundaries lines.
If you think about it, the very walls we have inside our home define physical space. There are walls that define the boundary of bedrooms, family rooms, bathrooms and so on. In Las Vegas, most of us have walls that enclose our backyards! These are physical boundaries that say IN HERE is my space. And OUT THERE is outside of my space. This helps keep us safe physically.
A personal boundary can also be physical; for example, I only give hugs to certain people. And because of the current pandemic, some only feel comfortable to “elbow tap” or “fist bump” others. It’s important to establish personal boundaries to protect ourselves and others from being hurt. These personal limits can also be set for our children in these ways:
- “You can talk to me like this (example), not that (example).”
- “When I am talking, put your hand on my arm so I know you need me. But it’s not ok to interrupt.”
- “You can ride your bike to the end of the street and back, but not onto the next street.”
- “Please knock on the door when it’s closed and wait for me to respond before opening it.”
- “You may sleep in your bed, or read in your bed, but you may not get out of your bed to play.”
Boundaries are the LIMITS of who we are and what we do and what behaviors we’ll accept or not. They allow us to separate who we are, and what we think and feel, from others and their thoughts and feelings. They matter a whole lot. How are YOU doing with the boundaries in your relationships?
3. EMOTIONAL or INTERNAL
A boundary can also help define an individual by outlining belief systems. Your spirit, mind, heart, will and body all have boundaries. And THESE are the kind of boundaries we are going to discuss here. Let’s face it, WE CAN ALL BE OVERTAKEN BY EXTREME THOUGHTS & FEELINGS AT TIMES!
Think about King David. By all historical accounts, he was a good-looking, strong, and intelligent man who was dedicated to God. The Bible says he was a man after God’s own heart! And yet, he struggled with lust…so much so that he had an affair with his friend, Uriah’s wife and then had Uriah killed. Obviously, the problem started within, a problem with his own desire!
Or how about the Apostle Paul? He wrote in Romans 7:15 that he doesn’t even understand his own actions; he doesn’t do what he wants to do but the very thing he hates. Can you sense – and empathize with – the internal struggle here of feeling divided? I know that I can!
Now that we’re on the same page about what boundaries ARE – basically a line between here and there – it’s time to talk about WHY we NEED them! And especially why we need them for our SOULS!
Internal boundaries strengthen the connection between the sacred place inside your soul and various parts of yourself.
When we talked about anger here, we learned how it was just a PART of you. Well, we have LOTS of “parts” to ourselves and what we most often want to do is ignore or suppress or even condemn the parts of ourselves that we don’t like. However, this ALWAYS makes things worse.
UNLIKE what Tyler Durden believed, I would like to posit:
What you DON’T own will end up owning you.
LOOK: You cannot be good to others when you’re hurting inside.
THIS is why we need boundaries. We need to get to know the uncomfortable, overbearing, denied, or lost parts of ourselves. We need to BEFRIEND them (Wait…what? That’s right! “Love your enemies” means even the anger, jealousy, envy, and strife inside of you!), so that you can create healthy boundaries with them to be able to relate to them from a comfortable distance.* Your emotional well-being and the quality of your relationships depends on it.
*Think about a comfortable distance when you are talking to someone – close enough so you don’t have to yell, but not so close that you can count their eyebrow hairs! Or if your close friend moves away, you may feel sad and have to find ways to maintain your connection….but if another friend became overbearing, you would need to distance yourself to get some healthy space.
The best way to care for these hurting parts of your soul is to invite God’s Holy Spirit to be with them. You may find some of your emotions may be too close and seem overwhelming and some may be too far away and therefore you are out of touch with them. But, by first recognizing and then focusing on them, you can start to make necessary changes!
Here’s some “homework” for YOUR emotional well-being and health of relationships with those closest to you:
First, get a list of emotions – you can google one or see the list near the end of this article – and every day just to look at that list and complete this sentence, “Right now I am feeling….” There is no right or wrong answer! You just need to START being AWARE of how you are feeling the moment you are in! Thats it! If you are willing to commit to this homework, be sure to comment and let me know!
Looking forward to connecting with you more so be sure to comment and share with your mom friends if it’s helpful to you! THANKS!
Most of this information came from the excellent and highly recommended book, Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies. I have recommended this book to many for it’s life changing ability!
#ConnectPointMoms helps you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them! For quick, helpful parenting videos, find “Kate Connects” on YouTube or join the Connect Point Moms Facebook group to find encouraging supportive moms struggling through it all together!