The words that primarily set the boundaries for our lives are “YES” and “NO.” They are the words that obligate us for a task or free us from over extending ourselves. They are the words that give direction for our lives as well as can define us. They are the words that say “I am in” or “I am out.”
We seem to have problems saying the right one at the right time. So often, we just give in to the pressure of the moment.
- Would you do this?
- Would you attend this?
- Would you lead this?
- Would you pay for this?
- Would you commit to this?
- Would you watch my hyperactive, insomniac twins while my husband and I move to Nevada?
- Would you go on a blind date with my second cousin who is just getting out of prison?
A boundary is a kind of physical personal property line that marks you off as an individual. As individuals we have our own gifts, our own identity, our own passions and dreams.
It is important that we understand who we are, who we’re not and what we’re responsible for and what we’re not responsible for.
You may not feel this way, but your life does not belong to your boss, your parents, your spouse or your children. Your life first belongs to God. They are important, but they will not give an account for your life.
Boundary problems generally occur because of two kinds of people: COMPLIANT PEOPLE and CONTROLLING PEOPLE.
COMPLIANT PEOPLE have a hard time saying “No.” They prefer peace and generally seek to avoid conflict. Often they are motivated by fear, fear of rejection. They have fuzzy boundaries. They say YES even though they want to say NO. They don’t want to hurt anyones feelings. They don’t want anyone not to like them. They have a highly developed sense of guilt and they often blame themselves even if it’s not their fault. If I were to ask the compliants to lift their hands they would readily do so. Why? Because they are compliant.
CONTROLLING PEOPLE on the other hand have a hard time hearing the word NO. When you say “No” to a controller, he/she hears “Maybe.” If you say “Maybe,” the controller hears “Yes.”
Some controllers are aggressive. They push, shove, intimidate and raise their voices. There are also manipulative controllers who use guilt to try and make you feel obligated. They refuse to take NO for an answer.
The main issue for those who are compliant and those who are controllers is that they have a hard time accepting limits. They may know their boundaries but they don’t respect theirs or others people’s boundaries. It does little good when I ask controllers to raise their hands because they will not do it. They tend to be defiant. But we know who we are.
QUESTION: What happens when peace loving compliant meets an insensitive controller? THEY GET MARRIED!
A fairly acurate simple test is, who is using the armrest at the movie theatre or on an airplane.
A controller will continue to try and control a complaint until the complaint person eventually says, NO MORE! I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!
No matter whether you’re a controller or compliant, you can go through life exhausted because of the demands on others or yourself. You can damage yourself and others, as well as miss out on God’s best for your life. That’s why getting a clear sense of boundaries is so important.
This week I will do a series entitled: Four Areas Where We Need Clear Boundaries
A helpful book on this subject is called ‘Boundaries’ by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.