7 Secrets to Better Boundaries
A few weeks ago, I turned in my beloved Outback for a new 2017 Outback to take advantage of an amazing deal. While I know most people love getting at new car, I actually adored my old Outback. If the lease had not been up in a few months, and the deal not so sweet, I would have gladly hung onto my Outback!
My new Outback is equipped with EyeSight® technology – a new safety feature that beeps when you veer out of your lane or get too close to the car in front of you. It also indicates when something is in your blind spot. And if you fail to slow down or stop, the car will do it for you!
There is no arguing that the new features make driving safer, even if it has made for a less peaceful drive. The beeping has made me realize how I need to be more aware of where I am in relationship to those around me on the road – maybe I’ve gotten a little sloppy.
With “beeping” on the brain, it got me thinking about how nice it would be in life if there was a boundary indicator that beeped when you or those around you stepped outside your lane. It is easy to blame your unfortunate moments in life on others, yet it more often than not it is our own inability to maintain good boundaries that get us in trouble!
Boundaries in life require a clear sense of what is your responsibility and what belongs to others. While it is setting limits, it is even more about understanding your worth and identity in Christ. When your worth and identity is abundantly clear, you will naturally set limits because you value yourself.
What are some indicators that your boundaries are out of whack?
- Over extended
- Feeling powerless or like a victim
- Missed deadlines
- Relationship struggles
- Working all the time
- Trouble saying “NO”
- A lack of self-care
- A critical attitude
- Putting God last
No matter how crazy your circumstances are or what enormous goals you are chasing, it is still up to you to set boundaries in your life that honor you, your identity in Christ, your values, and your priorities in this season of life. No one else can do that for you. It is your responsibility alone!
And when you don’t do this for YOU, you are the one who will suffer!
So, where in your life do your boundaries tend to get fuzzy? And what is it about that aspect of your life that clouds your perspective of you and your values, priorities, and purpose in this season?
No one enjoys conflict or losing something of value – the fear of that happening is what often causes you to ignore your boundaries. Frustration follows – frustration that is more directed at yourself because you allowed something to happen that is not in keeping with your worth!
Your worth has already been established in Christ. There is nothing you can do to increase your value! Striving to get the approval of others or to appear successful are efforts in vain. They are not true indicators of your value.
How can you improve your boundaries?
1. Embrace Your Identity in Christ
If you are a believer, you are a child of God! He valued you to the extent that He was willing to have His Son die for YOU so that He could enjoy a relationship with YOU! Oh, He knew you would sin, that you would be far from perfect, yet He still valued you. When the God of the universe sees you as valuable the approval of others pales in comparison!
And when you truly believe He values you it will show – your boundaries will reflect that you are confident of your worth!
Struggling for His love to sink in? Spend time alone with Him. Savor His Word. Listen to what He speaking to you!
2. Clarify Your Values
Your values are the things you would be willing to fight for because they are that important to you. Clear values translate to clear boundaries. When your values are at stake, you will sense that internal beeping and adjust accordingly.
3. Know Your Limits
Unfortunately, you are not super human. You have limits. The sooner you tap into what they are the better.
Do you need more sleep than the average bird? Do you require alone time to rejuvenate? If you are going to limit work to eight hours so you can be available to family, what should you put the bulk of your efforts into? What are your specific limitations?
4. Establish Your Priorities
Different seasons of life have slightly different priorities. What are the priorities for you in this season of life? Being clear on your priorities will help you make choices that honor you.
5. Quit trying to Change Others
It is easy to slip into thinking that fixing others will solve your troubles. In reality, you can’t change anyone but you! And when you keep your focus on changing you, it actually encourages those around you to make adjustments. Remember, your responsibility is YOU and only you! So keep boundaries that honor you!
6. Keep It Simple
When maintaining your boundaries, keep it simple! Just say “yes” or “no” and skip the explanation.
When someone violates your boundaries communicate in “I” and “me” statements rather than “You” statements, which tend to stir up trouble. Follow this simple pattern:
I feel______________________ when you ______________________.
What I need from you is ______________________.
7. Skip Striving
Striving is an attempt to prove that you are successful and to gain the approval of others. Striving tricks you into thinking you are being proactive and working hard when in reality you are compromising your boundaries and sabotaging yourself.
Perhaps the thing that excites me the most about boundaries is that boundaries and creativity go hand in hand. With limits comes creativity! With less time, fewer resources, etc. comes greater ingenuity! In fact, the tighter your boundaries, the greater your results! That’s motivating!
On the flip side, when you have oodles of options, it is actually paralyzing!
Get in the habit of listening to that internal “beeping,” it is there for your safety!
What changes do you need to make to have better boundaries?