Okay, we have learned about the various styles and definitions of boundaries. Last week we even learned about the myths and lies thrown around regarding boundaries. Now this week we attempt to put all that information into action, as we review the Boundaries and our Family.
Inside and outside perceptions of boundaries. We can make some solid decisions regarding boundaries on the inside, but if we don’t proactively communicate the boundaries, they become even more of a problem. If a person does not define their boundaries or guard their heart and communicate boundaries, it can get real messy real fast. Let’s go ahead and begin with the topic we are all trying to possibly avoid, boundaries and our family. What, how come, why not and now what.
Signs of Boundary Problems (130)
How can we tell if there are boundary problems in our family?
Catching the Virus
It is a classic situation, but we have either all experienced this phenominom, or we have been impacted by such an activity. Like when a family member goes and visits a family member, and everybody else can tell without asking where they have been. The emotions experienced with that family member impact the other. They come home emotionally drained, maybe upset. They bring those emotions home and everybody in contact with them is impacted as well.
There are times when some people in your life seem to click together in ways that leaves others feeling like they are on the outside? An example that happens frequently is when a blended family comes together and some members conspire together and ostracize others. Like when a parent gets asked important questions while the step-parent is left out of those discussions. These can be that the child have more confidence and security with their blood parent, but in reality it makes the step-parent feel left out or as a second-fiddle. Some times it can get so dramatic that the step-parent feels like the whole family is against them.
May I have my Allowance?
It is known that finances are a big concern and issue with many marriages. Some of the pain points have to do with poor boundaries. Financial benefits seem supportive and beneficial at time, but in reality, they create many challenges over time. These issues arise when a parent helps their adult children and then there is a peer pressure. If the grandparent provides financially, they sometimes think that is giving them the rights to demand time and other privileges because they give financially.
Where are my socks?
Some big challenges in life are when others take care of our life management functions, when we are adults. The child does not learn to take care of themself and they actually become entitled, having unreasonable expectations of others. These parents are really not trying to cause problems, but psychologists refer to these relationships as “enmeshed”. It is where the adult children never establish their true independence and become dependent on their parents when they shouldn’t. These adult children in turn have unhealthy boundaries in there other relationships that cause even more problems than imaginable.
Who’s the child?
A heartbreaking situation that happens frequently in our culture is children growing up to take care of their parents. A child born into an abusive family, one of alcohol and drugs, is frequently expected to take care fo their parents. Children being adults, and adults being children; a true sign of boundary problems.
But I’m Your Brother
Broken boundaries among children can cause all kinds of problems and issues. There are numerous incidences in our lives where one brother or sister puts all kinds of expectations on other siblings. There is that demand they they are relatives and guilt is thrown all around to shame brother or sister to fill the void of the gap in another’s life.
Can you personally relate to any of the signs of boundary problems outlined? Does one in particular have significance in your life? What has been the challenges? How have you ventured through such times?
Why Do We Do That? (136)
Continuation of Old Boundary Problems
When we see and are astonished with the vast variety of boundary problems all around us, we can’t but pause and wonder “why”? How come we do what we do? As we have most likely learned in this book, we were not even aware of our part in boundary problems. We know we have been frustrated from time to time with relationships, but now we can categorize many and know our part in them and what are some healthy responses in such circumstances.
It is not always because we are learning more and better ways to take advantage of others or even that we are being put in new situations. In reality our boundary issues of the past do not just go away. In fact most of our boundary struggles we face today is manifested in our earlier boundary issues.
This book and study we’re doing is not about spiritual maturity, but of relational maturity. Instead of being trapped in the dysfunction of long ago we must realize that we have been adopted. We may have been raised in a very dysfunctional family, but God has chosen us and drawn us out. We must get out of denial of the pain, sorrow and hurt experienced and realize that you are in a new family, you have been adopted.
Resolving Boundary Problems with Family (139)
Identify the Symptom
Review your family and sibling relationships and determine if there may be a pattern there that has or might impact you. Some family boundary problems may not have impacted you directly up to this point, but you have been exposed to boundary problems.
Identify the Conflict
Going back and reviewing the laws of Boundaries, what are the boundaries that you seem to violate the most often?
- Law of Sowing and Reaping
- Law of Responsibility
- Law of Power
- Law of Respect
- Law of Motivation
- Law of Evaluation
- Law of Proactivity
- Law of Envy
Identify the need that drives the conflict
We do not respond in inappropriate ways for no reason. There have been things done to us and things that had not been done. It is vital to understand the motivation and need that is triggering or sustaining our boundary problems. Many times the general challenge is fear, but just saying that fear causes us boundary problems is just the beginning. We need to identify the specific fear and make steps to address the void or abuse. To stop the cycle.
What are some of your motivations or justifications to still struggle or allow certain unhealthy boundary situations to exist?
Take in and Receive the Good
It is very good to understand the motivation and need that we have that fuels our behavior to either tolerate situations or create them. We need to get to the foundation of our needs and then let God meet our needs. If we work on limiting how much we expect others in our life to meet our needs, we will improve our relationship with God. What we rely on we worship.
What are some ways you can begin to allow God to meet your needs? What are some of the needs you are desiring that cause you the most pain and challenges?
Practice Boundary Skills
Learning what boundary challenges we have is great; learning what to change is even better, but just like many things in life, we must we wise and prudent in our changes. Like an athlete that has an injury and in recovery, the athlete does not just come immediately back and perform like nothing happened. They need to ease into it. They need to be gradual and determined. Knowing they can’t do everything they want to do immediately, but they do have a recovery plan and start out easy and build themselves up.
In our boundary recovery we need to take it easy and be persistent and wise. Lean on your close accountability partners and small group participants, where you know you are safe and that you can practice knowing that you will not be rejected or scorned.
Say No to the Bad
Besides establishing new habits we need to also be wise and alert when it comes to what we frequent. Whether it is meetings with certain people, restaurants or websites, we must guard our heart and quit allowing sin to rule our life.
Putting James 5:16 into practice, what are some bad things that you need to say no to?
Forgive the Aggressor
Just like in all relationships, forgiveness is the key to healthiness. The approach many take in life is if someone hurts us to the point we think it is major, we leave them. We don’t want anything to do with them. The sad part is, even after the separation and departure, there is still a toxicity that remains with us.
The issue with family boundary wounds is that they don’t go away, it gets stuffed way down deep. Resentment commonly lingers for years in families. The sad part is the person hurting the most has the ability to change the situation.
It might not even be recent. It might be how one of your brothers or sisters treated you when you were younger. It could be long forgotten by them, but you still remember; it still defines some of your boundary definitions with them.
Do you have pain and resentment of how you were treated (or not treated) when you were younger? Do you now recognize that you need to forgive someone in your family and let healing begin?
Respond, Don’t React
When we react to something that someone says or does, we may have boundary issues.
If someone can cause havoc in your life by what they say or do, they are in control of your life. When we respond, we remain in control, with options and choices. The difference between reacting and responding is a choice. Are you saying you have a defined boundary but you’re leaving the gate open to allow the boundary to be ignored. Be wise, attentive and diligent. Just like a good rancher, he has to monitor the fences and repair often.
Love in Freedom & Responsibility, not in Guilt
Having boundaries with family members in no way means we don’t love them. It is just the opposite, we are gaining the freedom to love our family.
It is good to sacrifice and deny our self for the sake of others. But we need boundaries to make that choice.
Practice purposeful giving to increase your freedom. Sometimes people who are building boundaries feel that to do someone a favor is codependent. Nothing is farther than the truth. Doing good for someone, when you freely choose to do it, is boundary enhancing. Codependents are not doing good; they are allowing evil because they are afraid.
Encouragement & Challenge
Now knowing a bit more about family boundary challenges, be alert to yours and work on defining, refining and repairing your boundaries. Also in your daily activities with coworkers, friends and even complete strangers, be aware that each person has boundaries and sometimes they are not healthy. That maybe some family issues of put that other person in a bad situation. They might be reacting to you because of their family situation. Be alert and aware. Adjust your boundaries as needed to keep yourself safe. Have compassion for others, this life is difficult, life is hard, but keep your choices and don’t let others control you.