Author Topic: About Boundaries  (Read 10681 times)

Certain Hope

  • Guest
About Boundaries
« on: August 07, 2007, 01:36:39 PM »
An excellent article, I think... really covers the gamut of boundary related issues, particularly in light of post traumatic stress disorder.


by Patience Mason

From Issue 8 of the Post-Traumatic Gazette ©1996 by Patience H. C. Mason. All rights reserved, except that permission is hereby granted to freely reproduce and distribute this document, provided the text is reproduced unaltered and entire (including this notice) and is distributed free of charge.

I've been thinking a lot about boundaries this month because they have always been a difficult issue for Bob and me. I suspect it is for all trauma survivors and their families. Bob seemed to me to have walls that shut me out, and I didn't seem to have any boundaries in either direction. When we disagreed about something, he thought I was saying that he was crazy, and I always thought he was being deliberately bad (because I was always right). Our boundary problems led to a lot of pain.

For trauma survivors developing healthy boundaries is important. Often in the most literal physical sense, trauma is a boundary violation: the bullet entered your body, the fist hit your face. Recovering the sense of your rights over your body, that it is safe to be in your body in this world, can be a monumental task.

Family members can also have difficulty with boundaries, as can therapists. This shows up as efforts to fix people because we need other people to be fine to prove our worth. I used to let Bobís actions and feelings control how I felt about myself. (If Bob was depressed it meant I was a bad wife, not that he'd been through a lot in Vietnam). I invaded his boundaries by trying to control his actions and feelings to "fix" him. (Donít be sad.) Boundary violations were my way of life. Therapists and people in 12 Step programs who tell you you donít need whatever (usually whatever they are not doing, therapy or program) are having a boundary problem. Only you can know what helps you, and you can only find out by experience. Experience is how one develops boundaries and a sense of self. Many of us have never seen a healthy example of boundaries.

Unhealthy Boundaries:

Too Weak: when you become enmeshed in someone else's life and wind up feeling what they feel, doing what they do, and not being you, you have weak boundaries. Under traumatic conditions, however, that can be a survival skill. Many combat vets could read each other like a book. Hyperalertness to each other kept them alive. Traumatic bonding between abuser and abused is also a survival skill. Reading the emotions of the abuser and becoming what they want you to be can save your life. It also carries a great price. Being able to sense others' moods is helpful in relationships, but always being what someone else wants you to be (the woman who doesn't mind if he gets drunk/ the guy who will do anything for his wife) is a form of dishonesty which prevents real intimacy. No one can be intimate with someone who doesn't know what s/he feels, wants, likes or dislikes, or who can't be honest about it, even though such dishonesty developed as a survivor skill.

The weak boundary experienced by survivors who are endlessly triggered because they are so open to sensing danger is a very painful state of affairs. What's outside you controls your inside. Avoiding triggers is helpful, but developing boundaries so things don't set you off is part of recovery. Furthermore, another safety issue is that hyperalertness can lead you to reading danger into a situation where it doesnít exist, causing unnecessary defensiveness or even violence.

Too strong: Walls donít make you safe either. When you hear about the sexual abuse survivor who gets raped by some guy she met in a bar, realize that her wall of numbness prevented her from reading the danger signs. She's not dumb, she's numb. If his buddies died, a veteran may try never to care for anyone again, putting up walls which prevent him from getting the support he needs to heal.

Although aggression (yelling, bossing, rejecting) or isolation (putting up a wall, or simply not being around others) are the usual forms of too-strong boundary, during prolonged inescapable abuse dissociation can be a way of creating a boundary in order to survive. Denial, too, can serve as a boundary (didnít happen/didnít affect me). So can compulsive behaviors like alcoholism or relationship addiction. Overeating puts up a wall of fat to keep others out. (At the other extreme, the person who always wears skintight clothes may be sending an unconscious message, "I have no boundaries.") Reality keeps breaking through this kind of boundary, sometimes traumatically.

Putting up a wall of numbness or anger can lead you to be abusive because if it "didnít bother me," you may be unable to perceive how it could bother someone else. You canít tell that you are hurting them (or that your numbness is evidence that it did bother you).

Overly strong boundaries require a lot of effort to maintain. Nothing affects you but nothing can get through to help you either. Lots of survivors alternate between weak and too strong boundaries, getting close and then cutting people off, or trusting no one and then quickly becoming totally enmeshed.

Healthy boundaries: Ideally human beings have healthy boundaries that are like the semi-permeable membrane that surrounds a cell. Boundaries allow you to let out bad feelings so you donít drown in your own waste products. They close to protect you from harm, but they open to let good things through. They allow you to give and receive support, become really close at times (like during lovemaking or intimate conversations or quiet cuddling) yet operate independently at other times. Healthy interdependence is the result.

For me it has been important to recognize that small actions taken one day at a time will help me recover, while great resolutions to change completely and forever (Iíll never do that again!) have been both futile and led me to self hatred (Whatís wrong with me? Why canít I change?) So here is a bunch of suggested small actions to help strengthen your sense of self, and your respect for and knowledge of yourself, and your ability to accept others because you have boundaries. Take what you like and leave the rest. This works if you are a survivor, family member, or therapist.

Pause Button: Visualize a pause button when something upsets you and take a moment to pick out an action that might help you rather than reacting in the same old way. Here are a few actions you can take:

Locating yourself in the here and now: When you are struggling with intrusive PTSD symptoms, it can be very valuable to write out on a 3x5 card an appropriate statement for you to read and say over and over:

"I am________. Iím ____ years old. I am in ________ and no one here wants to hurt me." Add to this whatever affirmations are helpful. I need to feel this pain so I can let it go. Itís okay if I make mistakes. Having it written out and in your pocket can be a lifesaver. I works best if you pull it out and read and say it till you get relief.

Using the word "I:" People often say "You make me feel..." or "That made me feel..." One of the smallest most empowering changes you can make in your thinking is to use the word "I" when you talk about yourself. Replace "you made" or "that made", which is giving away your power, with the words, "I feel..." Even if you feel other people do make you feel good or bad, just phrase it differently. Say "I feel _____when you_______." Eventually this new way of talking will strengthen your boundaries. Your perspective on your feelings will shift. You may even feel you have more power over what you feel.

Using the word "I" when talking about yourself can also change your perspective. Many of us habitually use generalities, say "You want to be nice," when what we mean is "I want to be nice." or "You donít want/need that," when what we mean is "I donít want you to want/need that." Using "I" really made me think! Today I prefer to say what I mean. It helps me to know myself better and see if Iím in your business.

Separating my feelings from yours: When someone elseís mood controls yours, it means your boundaries need strengthening. Automatically reacting is a lot of work. Identifying it is the beginning of healing. How? Ask yourself is this my feeling or his/hers? If it is not your feeling say to yourself, "I am not whatever. S/he is whatever, (depressed, angry, numb). Or say "Iím me, and I donít have to feel what s/he feels or think what s/he thinks." A simple but effective technique is to keep repeating it to yourself. This seems awkward and stupid at first but it really helps over the long haul. These phrases block the emotion and remind you that you are separate from others. Visualize a boundary if it helps, a fence between your garden and his or hers. When you can separate what you feel from what others feel, you will find yourself more able to tolerate other peoplesí bad feelings, even sympathize, because they will not longer control how you feel. Letting other people feel what they feel (acceptance) is a big part of intimacy. Learning to have a good day when those around you are having a bad one lifts the burden off them of ruining your day.

Another thing that helps me is to visualize a glass globe separating me from anotherís emotions. When someone picks on me, sneers at me, says something painful, I see the words hit the glass, but they bounce back because, itís their problem, opinion, attitude. I might want to examine it, but I donít have to take it in as the truth about me, nor even react to it, because I have healthy boundaries. Criticism becomes not at all devastating, just information I may or may not find interesting or useful

Another technique is active listening which I discuss in Recovering From The War. By listening to others and reflecting back what they say, you practice having a boundary with them and you sharpen your perception of the difference between you and them. It's a self correcting process, too. When you listen and hear it wrong, they tell you! You can see how you hear things as opposed to what they actually said. It's really interesting. Learning to actively listen takes a lot of practice. We're usually composing an answer before the other person it through speaking, (which is not listening). Survivors have trouble listening, too, because stuff seems so petty or because they have trouble concentrating, a symptom of PTSD. Active listening helps with concentration by focusing you on what the other person is saying, because you are going to paraphrase it : "I'm so angry! My boss moved my desk to where I can't see out the window." Old pattern: "So what!" (minimizing) or "So quit!" (solution) both of which lead to an argument. Active listening: "He really pissed you off!" As you identify the other person's feeling (confirming the boundary) they feel heard and supported and you get practice in healthy boundaries. It's the same when a trauma survivor expresses pain. Instead of saying, "Get over it," learn to paraphrase. Recently a WWII vet was telling me some of his experiences and my paraphrase was, "you really went through hell," which was exactly what he was trying to tell me.

Trauma survivors need to be able to have and tolerate painful feelings because they are normal when youíve been traumatized. They are also evidence of what youíve been through. Your family, friends and therapists need to respect that and learn to tolerate them, too. As they develop healthier boundaries, your bad days wonít ruin their days.

Tolerating painful feelings instead of running from them eventually leads to healing (see the HEALS acronym in V2, N2). By tolerating a feeling, I mean actually feeling it for a short period. HEALS means flashing the letters "Healing" in your mind, which is a good pause button. Explain to yourself what you are feeling and feel it for about 30 seconds. Apply self compassion, Love yourself, and then Solve the problem. Feel the feeling without necessarily believing rhat the feeling reflects reality. I may feel hurt, but that doesnít mean someone meant to hurt me. I may feel guilty, but that doesnít mean I am: it may just be something Iím used to feeling. Most of us were brought up on large doses of guilt.

Edited 15 July to remove the "Part I" from title, since I never got around to doing a Part II.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2008, 12:15:27 PM by Certain Hope »

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part II
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2007, 01:37:44 PM »
Boundaries - cont'd.

Identifying what you feel is another way of working on your boundaries. Keeping a list of feelings written down on paper is a good way to start identifying your feelings. Pull it out and look at it if you are having trouble identifying what you feel. You can also start a journal entry describing your immediate reaction (Iím feeling tense... I just yelled at someone...) and look at when youíve felt that way before (the strength of many feelings comes from a different time zone, often the time of your trauma or childhood) or what that action has been caused by in the past (usually when Iím yelling itís because Iím afraid I wonít get some need met. What need am I afraid about now?). This kind of examination can become a very useful habit.

Many trauma survivors are angry and defensive. These feelings are a natural result of having oneís boundaries violated. Anger may have saved your life. People who are defensive have healthy fear behind it. However when the traumatic situation is long gone, anger and defensiveness can linger and hurt relationships, leaving you without community or love. Behind anger and defensiveness, there are painful feelings needing to be felt. Stifle them long enough and they blow a hole in your wall, shrapnel hits those you care for, and you feel so bad you retreat behind the wall determined to make it thicker.

Itís better to work on making it healthier rather than thicker.

We all hate to be told weíre angry. I canít tell you how many times Iíve said "I AM NOT ANGRY," while smoke was probably coming out of my ears. Ditto defensiveness. "Yes, butó" is my clue there. You may have others like black and white thinking (Youíre either for me or against me).

It can help to identify the physical part in your body where you feel: for instance some angry people grind their teeth or clench their jaw or sigh a lot, so if you have trouble knowing when you are getting angry check you body for physical signs or ask your family and friends how they know when you are mad. You may feel fear as a churning stomach. I feel it as total numbness, so whenever I can't feel anything, I know I'm scared. Then I write about the fear till I can feel it, and it passes.

Developing a healthy boundary can also help you sort out feelings. You feel pain because of the trauma you were involved in (combat, battered wife, house fire.) That is your right. You donít have to be over it no matter what someone says. It is okay to be in pain. You can feel the pain at your own rate and it will pass. If you feel shame at having been hurt, you can feel it without believing it. You can visualize yourself handing that shame back to your abuser. You may have to do that many times in your head before it becomes part of your boundary, but you didnít cause your abuse, you didnít want it, and you didnít deserve it, whatever anyone says.

Learning who you are: For people who donít think they have the right to be, much less be themselves, deepening your sense of self is an important part of recovery. Start writing a list with the heading: I like....

Start one with Things I might like... Trying new things to see if you like them is one way to get to know yourself. This can be as simple as changing the radio station you usually listen to, driving a new route to work, trying a new food. You can also keep a list of Things I donít like. Trying something and not liking it is good. It means you are not afraid to make mistakes and be human. These lists may change with time. Good. It means you are growing.

Other ways of finding out more about who you are include working the 12 Steps especially the written ones (4 and 10), getting into therapy, keeping a journal, or working some sort of recovery book. My experience has been that I do better when I have support. If you start to work a recovery book and become overwhelmed, get help. We werenít meant to handle either trauma or the effects of living with someone who has PTSD alone.

Another way to start working on boundaries is to figure out who owns the problem? If Bob is depressed because of his experiences in Vietnam, he owns the problem. If I cannot tolerate his depression and insist on trying to fix him, I have made it my problem. I'm violating his boundaries and making work for myself. I need to detach and let him have his problem. The work I need to do is on becoming able to tolerate his feelings, not either adopt them (getting as depressed as he is or more) nor try to change them. There are 22 readings on detachment in the Alanon One Day at a Time, (available from Al-Anon Family Groups, 1600 Corporate Landing Parkway, Virginia Beach, VA, 23462). When I was first learning to detach, I read all 22 every day for weeks. Loving detachment isn't ignoring someone. It is listening without adopting or fixing the problem. Practice detachment and you practice boundaries.

Many people, especially men, are solution oriented (giving solutions violates boundaries, by the way, unless the person has said "What should I do?"). People who have a problem want you to listen to it and say "that must be hard for you," not "Do this. Do that." Each time a person with a boundary problem listens to someone else's problem without trying to ignore or fix it, he or she is strengthening his or her sense of self and increasing his or her tolerance for other people's emotions instead of avoiding them, i.e. growing boundaries!

Saying no: Another step in developing boundaries is learning to say no to others and learning to accept no. For trauma survivors, being able to say no to activities that might trigger them is important. As part of learning what you like, saying no to things you donít like is important even if youíve always said yes before. Screaming no is a sign that you donít yet feel you have the right to say it. As time passes and your boundaries strengthen, youíll be able to say it politely because you will know inside that you do have the right to say no. Other people do to. Today I can accept no for an answer because it is no longer proof of my worthlessness but simply that person setting his or her limits.

Saying yes: Once you can say no, you can also begin to say yes for healthy reasons. You may say yes to things youíd like to do but have been afraid to try. You may say yes to people who ask you to do things because you would like to do them and can do them for free and for fun (not because you should or for a payback). You may even say yes to some things you donít necessarily want to do but are willing to do because they fit your values and help you be the kind of person you want to be (not they want you to beónot people pleasing).

Asking for what you want: once you have more of an idea of who you are, what you feel, what you like, you can ask for what you want. This stops a lot of people because they feel that if they donít get what they want it was all for nothing. Thatís where the phrase "do the footwork and turn the results over" helps me. Asking early and asking often, so that saying no is okay, also helped me. I used to only ask when I was desperate so it wasnít a request. It was a demand.

Today I do not have to have other people do what I want. I ask for what I want, but I donít have to get it, because someone elseís behavior is not a reflection of my worth. The fact that they donít do what I want probably has nothing to do with me. It has to do with their issues, because they are separate from me, and I am not central to their lives like I am to mine. (I can trust that they are human and are going to put their interests before mine.)

By the way, when I havenít gotten people to do what I wanted, things have often turned out better than anything I could have imagined.

Perfectionism: Once I learned I stop at my skin, I learned to accept myself and to believe that I was okay even if I wasnít perfect. Iím just me. You are you. When I could accept me, I could accept you and begin to stop trying to violate your boundaries to make you perfect. Perfectionism and healthy boundaries are not compatible. Perfectionism is another big issue for trauma survivors who may feel if they had just been good enough or done it right, the trauma wouldnít have happened. So they try to be perfect or to raise perfect kids. Another variation is the trauma survivor who says it didnít affect him or her but is heavily invested in proving it by being perfect and having a perfect family.

When Iím violating you to make you perfect I do not have healthy boundaries. If Iím letting you violate me to make me perfect, I donít have them either. With boundaries, I can set limits, say no, have and express my own opinions, keep out of other peopleís business, especially business between two other members of my family (no triangulating), learn who I am, and let other people be and grow.

Physical boundaries: No one has the right to touch you or your stuff without permission. "Please donít touch me," is a perfectly polite statement and no explanation is required. "Why not?" on the other hand is rude and intrusive.

Physical boundaries also include having your own space. After being very close one way to return to normal boundaries without quarreling is to simply go do something in a different part of the house from your partner.

You donít have the right to touch others or their things without permission unless you are a parent pulling your kid out of harmís way. Please donít take it personally if someone doesnít want a hug. You donít know what theyíve been through. Please donít make your kids hug you or anyone else. You set them up for abuse that way. Please donít hit them either. It makes them hyperactive and confuses love and violence in their minds. Try to see what the child needs that s/he isnít getting and meet that need directly. It is usually attention. If you fail and spank, donít give up. You can always say you made a mistake because you are human and you are sorry and start over again the next minute. This sets a good example that no one is perfect.

Spiritual boundaries: One of the worst forms of abuse is spiritual abuse. True spirituality is something you find for yourself not something that is thrust down your throat along with a bunch of rules. No one has the right to tell you what to believe. Different people need different answers. I think thatís why there are so many different spiritual and religious paths. Not because one is right and the others wrong, but because they all have something that someone needs. I have no argument with someone who says "X is the answer that works for me." Someone who says "X is the answer for everyone," doesnít have good boundaries. They usually want your money too.

For years, I practiced my boundaries by writing out the Serenity Prayer every morning: Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (I wrote in people, places, and things that were bothering me), the courage to change the things I can (I wrote in "my own actions, reactions, perceptions, what Iíll put up with"), and the wisdom to know the difference.

The wisdom (and the willingness) to know the difference comes with practice. The courage to change the things I can showed me what was inside my boundary; accepting the things I canít showed me what was outside my boundary. Seeking a higher power also helps with boundaries. If Iím playing God of course I have no boundaries, but if Iím not God then I am finite and do have boundaries. Accepting help from others and learning to take what I like and leave the rest strengthened my boundaries, too. When I thought we all had to think and be alike, I didnít have boundaries. Today I do.

Living with healthy boundaries is far easier than living without them. I am no longer the prey of emotions that fluctuate with every outside influence. Sometimes I get more reactive, but I know I donít have to continue to react. I call it recycling. I choose to use the tools Iíve learned to change my reactions by taking new actions. I donít give up when my old patterns come back. I look inside to see whatís going on with me. If you find yourself saying "I should be over this," let go of that perfectionism and black and white thinking, get out your feelings list and your journal, figure out whose problem it is, practice your boundaries. Itís another opportunity to grow.

Poppy Seed

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2007, 10:53:02 AM »

Thank you for this.  I really needed to read something like this.  I am realizing again that I am slipping into old patterns of weak boundaries.  Thank you for this strengthening lesson.

I need to read that list of 22.


Certain Hope

  • Guest
Review of Boundaries
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2008, 10:20:10 AM »
Reposting this for purposes of Review and Refreshment, with an eye to fine-tuning some specific areas of concern  :)



  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5368
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2008, 04:07:02 PM »
The longer we practice - the more we learn: about others, about ourselves.

It's not possible to know EVERYTHING about ourselves or another person, because people are always changing. Yesterday isn't tomorrow...

Boundaries are like lines drawn in sand - with each high tide, we have the opportunity to choose where they should go - creating ourselves for this day, then the next, then the next...

People can be "safe" one day - and not, the next.

Awareness and listening for our own feelings are the best way to know when it's time to edit a boundary.
Success is never final, failure is never fatal.

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2008, 04:54:54 PM »
Good point, Amber... thank you.

That's part of what I meant about fine-tuning, when bringing this back up.

There had to be alot of No's and even more questions, early on... at least for me, there did, because I was so out of connection with my own feelings.

Practicing flexibility is possible now... but before, it coulda been disastrous.


Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2008, 11:54:48 AM »
My own current review and exploration of boundaries is now focused on re-examing and re-evaluating these fences and gates from a Christian perspective.
The best way I know to do that is to consider what Jesus did.

Now, whether you think that Jesus was just a good man, or a mortal prophet, or whether you believe that He is God incarnate, the living LordÖ.. it seems most folks agree that He set a pretty good example.
Personally, I believe that Jesus Christ is Lord Ö Savior and KingÖ God of allÖ but I'm not here to preach or to proselytize.
My point is that Jesus (imo) does not in the least resemble the milktoast image with which He is often portrayed in our time. Seems to me that meekness is often confused with weakness.... resulting in the sort of "cult of nice" mentality (recently mentioned here on the board) in which evil prospers, by default!

To me, the full efficacy of the truth - spoken clearly and decisively - is a demonstration of boundaries in action, as illustrated in the Bible passage quoted below. This is, imo, a wise, wholesome, and proper method of confronting error.

There are many more examples in Scripture, but Iíll begin with this ~ Matthew 23 ~ the entire chapter... because this is the passage which most convinced and convicted me, personally, when I was given up to the chains of religion, instead of relationship with God. I was totally decrepit and bound, yet preaching and teaching religion (not true Christianity), all the while boozing it up and feeling quite superior to those whose beliefs did not coincide with my own.
It was during this era that I met NPD-ex, so in a way, he really was the fruits of my labor.
And so I know, from personal experience, that this passage can shine light into the darkness of hypocrisy and open the way into new lifeÖ. Or not.

Was Jesus attached to the consequences when He first spoke it?
I know that He cared.... that He loved these people.
Did His love and caring prevent Him from speaking up?
No way.
And I am so very glad that it didn't... because if He had not spoken these same words into my heart, I would still be trying to reach God through religionÖ dead inside and utterly unaware. This is proof positive to me, personally, that unpleasant and quite inconvenient truth can change a life, when one has ears to hear.
Anyhow, this thread isn't about religion or even about God - it's about boundaries - and I think that Matthew 23 is an excellent example of the use of clear verbal boundaries that aren't mushy or squooshy or even a smidgen fuzzy.

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying:

 "The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 

"They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.
"But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
"They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,  and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.  "But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.  "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.  "Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. "But the greatest among you shall be your servant.

Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

 "But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation.
 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
 "Woe to you, blind guides, who say, `Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is obligated.'

 "You fools and blind men! Which is more important, the gold or the temple that sanctified the gold?  "And, `Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering on it, he is obligated.'
 "You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? "Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. "And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it.  "And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it.

 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
 For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence.
 "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.
"So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, `If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.'  "So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets.  "Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers.

 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?"
 "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.  "Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.  "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.  "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ` Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'"

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #7 on: June 27, 2008, 10:37:15 AM »
As I was saying, Jesus' words to the crowds of religious folks finally cracked my heart wide open.

Even once NPD-ex was out of the picture, I still operated under many of the same prideful delusions, "working" in a Christian chatroom, still drinking, and still thinking that I was empress of all that was good and true. Really, I did. I even listened to the Bible AnswerMan... (that makes it official!) until this passage hit me and God spoke to my heart and said...
"I didn't make you to be a heresy hunter. Just get to know Me."
About a year later, He showed me that I didn't need to drink anymore, either.
All this time I'd thought it was about storing up the right ways... when it was really, actually, all about letting go of the wrong.

And then there's the Sermon on the Mount... turning the other cheek and all. How do boundaries fit into that?   Back in my religious days, it was the beatitudes which kept me under N's foot.
I actually knew from very early on that he was not right... but I had pledged myself to him and would not go back on my word. Now that is religion!

Here's the beginning of an old message that's helped me to see these things in a new light:

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes an astounding statement that, over
the centuries, has led to an enormous amount of debate about his meaning.
Matthew 5:38-42

38 ďYou have heard that it was said, ĎAN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A
TOOTH.í 39 ďBut I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps
you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 ďIf anyone wants to
sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.

Jesus says donít resist an evil person, and if someone asks for something, give it
to him. Jesus says, donít resist and donít set limits on evil. Some of us have
asked ourselves, ďis this really what Jesus wants us to do?Ē Now, we find in
Jesusí own life something very interesting. He does something opposite of what
he says here in the Sermon on the Mount. Do you remember before Jesus went
to the cross when Jesus was on trial before the High Priest and was struck by an
officer and how he handled that?

John 18:23 tells us, Jesus answered him,
ďIf I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you
strike Me?Ē

Does this look like turning the other cheek to you? Instead of turning the other
cheek, Jesus challenges the officerís strike. On another occasion, Jesus again
teaches something opposite of turning the other check when he says in

 Luke 17:3 ďBe on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents,
forgive him.   

Here again, rebuke doesnít sound like turning the other cheek, but
instead resisting evil.

We may wonder how we can reconcile Jesusí teaching in
Luke 17 with what he said in the Sermon on the Mount about not resisting evil.
The answer is that Jesus is teaching two different responses to evil. Jesus
provides wisdom for each of us to know how to respond to evil in each individual
case that we encounter.

Sometimes the wise response to evil is to turn the other
cheek and let people have what they want, even when it seems unjust. Like
when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified.

At other times, the wise response to
evil is to resist evil directly by setting limits on it.
Of these two different
responses, this morning we are going to focus on protecting ourselves from bad
things and preserving good things by setting limits.

Certain Hope

  • Guest
Re: About Boundaries - Part I
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2008, 12:14:30 PM »
Here is the continuation of that old message I'd saved for reference.  Left off a few weeks ago with this:

At other times, the wise response to
evil is to resist evil directly by setting limits on it. Of these two different
responses, this morning we are going to focus on protecting ourselves from bad
things and preserving good things by setting limits.

And now, to continue...

Another word for a limit is a boundary. Boundaries are lines that mark a limit,bound, or border. An example of a boundary in the physical world is a fencearound a property. In the physical world, the fences are visible, but in the inter-personal world, the fences or boundaries are invisible. Just like in the physicalworld, in the interpersonal world, boundaries help us to distinguish our propertyso that we can take care of it. Among other things, our boundaries mark what wewill allow and what we will not allow in our yard, that is, in our lives. Boundaries help us to keep the good in and the bad out. Boundaries help us to know when to say ďyesĒ and when to say ďno.Ē Having healthy boundaries is vital for having quality relationships.

Boundaries are basically anything that helps to differentiate you from someone else. The most basic boundary that defines you is your physical skin.
People often use their boundary of skin as a metaphor for saying that their interpersona lboundaries have been violated.
They say, ďHe really gets under my skin.Ē
Our skin boundary keeps the good in and the bad out. Our skin boundary keeps the germs outside, protecting us from infection.
At the same time, skin has openings that let the good in, like food. How can we create boundaries? We can create boundaries, with our words.
The most basic boundary setting word is ďno.Ē
Many passages of Scripture urgeus to say ďnoĒ to othersí sinful treatment of us such as we looked at earlier from Luke 17 when Jesus said,
ďif your brother sins, rebuke him.Ē T
he word ďnoĒ is a confrontational word. God wants us to confront people and say, ďNo, that behavior is not OK.Ē
Can you think of someone in your life that you need to begin saying ďnoĒ to?
Perhaps they are treating you in a disrespectful way,raising their voice at you, using profanity around you, not keeping their commitments to you, asking more than you have the resources to give.
In thosecases you can set a boundary by saying, ďNo, that behavior is not OK.Ē

We can easily recognize the sin of the person who is mistreating us.
But we are also sinning if we allow the mistreatment and we donít set boundaries on theirbehavior.
On the one hand, we need to set boundaries, on the other hand,perhaps you are in the opposite situation and you need to apologize to someonefor violating his boundaries.
In additionn to saying ďno,Ē another boundary we can use is physical distance.
We can physically remove ourselves in order to replenish ourselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually, after we have given to our limits.
On some occasions (such as in Mark 6:30-32) Jesus left the crowds he ministered to, to be alone sothat he could replenish himself.
We can also use the boundary of physical distance in order to avoid harm.
This is referred to in Proverbs 22:3 ~ A prudent person foresees the danger ahead and takes precautions; the simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.
This Scripture shows that we can physically remove ourselves from a situation in order to set a boundary. We can physically remove ourselves from those who continue to hurt us and go to a  safe place.

More as I continue my own review of these most basic boundaries.
Right now, I'm practicing removing myself from the potential for... upset... which occurs when I'm put in the middle between two individuals who are engaged in a power struggle.
In a very real situation within my very real life... lol... I was asked for my opinion on something, but it was quite clear that I was expected to agree with the one asking.
I said, "I cannot say what I really think, because then I feel that I will be viewed as taking sides" .... and I turned and walked away.
That was the absolute wisest choice to make in this instance, I am convinced.