The fifth chapter of the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend continues to pour out insight, wisdom and challenges in each of our lives. The laws of boundaries, much like the other laws or facts in life (Newton’s law, law of supply and demand, law gravity, etc) are fundamental practices and knowledge of life around us. They define how things operate in a proper way and warn of consequences when the laws are broken.  An example of such a violation may be in the law of supply and demand.  If we consume more than we produce we will run out.  In the same manner we have been learning about laws that might be knew to our intellect, but be have been involved in them for years. It is just now that we begin to see just how complex humans are and the demands and laws that surround life and relationships. This week the basic fundamentals of “motivation” and feelings as well as reactions to life as we know it.

Loving too Much

Stan’s story in this weeks section of chapter 5, is a true reality. Stan had a desire to be accepted, to be loved and his motivation led him to take action by loving others. Stan had worn himself out by loving others and he came to get help. When asked what was wrong he answered “loving too much”. He went on to explain, “I do far more for people than I should. And that makes me very depressed.”

Can you share about a time when you felt like Stan?

The counselor in the book explains to Stan that there may be some confusion in words and actions. “The Bible says that true love leads to a blessed state and a state of cheer. Love brings happiness, not depression. If your loving is depressing you, it’s probably not love”.

What is your thoughts on that concept?

Love or Fear?

Stan explained many of the things he did for people, all with good intentions, but wrong motivation. Stan had grown up in a home where if he did not do what his parents wanted, they would withdrawl from him. So he did what he was told, not because he was getting joy and happiness, but to minimize the opportunity of trauma.

Many individuals do operate in the same fashion, out of fear, within their relationships. They tolerate the behavior of someone in their life and not protect boundaries because they fear they won’t be loved, they will lose love, or they will be abandoned.

Can you relate and share about some possible times when you thought your were loving, but you might have actually just done things out of fear?

Self-centered people often get angry when someone tells them no.

We may have had some people in our lives that has gotten angry with us when we told them no. Having people angry at us is uncomfortable, and that generally triggers a response on our side. We either get angry in retaliation, we withdrawn or we just tolerate it. (Fight, flight or freeze). It is these situations that sow our motivation to our behavior.  If we said no and they reacted that way, I better not say no. In response to that goal, the motivation might be to not allow the person to have to say no. Either by not creating an opportunity for no, or just allowing it to be yes. All motivated out of fear, not love.

False Motives

1. Fear of loss of love, or abandonment
People who say yes and then resent saying yes fear losing somone’s love. They give to get love, and when they don’t get love, they feel abandoned.

2. Fear of other’s anger
Because of old hurts and poor boundaries, some people can’t stand for anyone to be mad at them.

3. Fear of loneliness
Some people give in to others because they feel that they will “win” love and end their loneliness, or avoid potential loneliness.

4. Fear of losing the “good me”
Knowing that we were made to love and that pain, anger and sadness don’t make us happy, we feel that saying “I love you and I don’t want to do that” is not healthy.  This fear generates an idea that love always means yes. That we are not a good person if we say no.

5. Guilt
People try to do enough good things to make them feel good for the bad things and feelings that have towards themselves. When they say no, they feel bad, so in return they try to do more to make up for the bad feelings of saying no.

6. Payback
Individuals have received negative emotions when they have received things. They end up not wanting to receive things because their experience is that it comes with a “price-tag”. Many people are motivated to do things for others because they have received something.  Their actions are not out of love, but fear of the scales being unbalanced.

7. Approval
We want to be loved and accepted. Many motivations of people are not because they want to but because they feel obligated. They don’t want anyone mad at them, but they also don’t want anyone to not approve of them.

8. Over-identification with other’s loss
Many people that have been hurt by other’s in their life get into situations where they can’t have healthy boundaries and say “no” because they think they can relate so much with the other person having their feelings hurt, that they can’t say no because they don’t want the other person sad.  When the make someone else sad, they are the bad person. They negate the concept that the other person’s expectations might have been unhealthy.

Which have the “False Motives” can you relate to? Where do you find the most trouble in your life?

Was there any “False Motives” listed that were new to you?

We are called into freedom, and this freedom results in gratitude, an overflowing heart, and love for others. To give bountifully has great reward. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive. If your giving is not leading to cheer, then you need to examine the Law of Motivation.

The Law of motivation says this: Freedom first, service second. If you serve to get free of your fear, you are doomed to failure. Let God work on the fears, resolve them, and create some healthy boundaries to guard the freedom you were called to.

Call to Action

Over the past couple of weeks we have learned about and been challenged by some simple laws of boundaries:

  1. Law of Sowing and Reaping
  2. Law of Responsibility
  3. Law of Power
  4. Law of Respect
  5. Law of Motivation

Continue to reflect this week on these fundamentals. How are your boundaries being defended or established?  Have they been violated lately? And if so, how have you responded?