Who’s ready to get a little bit better? I sure am. I love getting better because if you’re not growing, you’re dying. We’ve got to keep showing up for ourselves and for the people that are counting on us. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with clients and friends with a topic that has been coming up a lot. I don’t know if you guys are aware of this but a lot of the time the pain in our lives, it is not physical pain… it is internal, felt in the heart.
And in my experience, a lot of the pain that I’ve encountered has come in one of two ways. It’s self-inflicted at times. I let my self talk beat me down, letting myself believe I’m not enough or asking myself why I do the things I do. I know I am not alone on this one and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve inflicted more pain and suffering on myself emotionally and mentally than I care to.
But the other place where a lot of pain comes from is in the context of relationships. If you have had some pain in relationships; some suffering, some chaos, some turmoil… Basically if you are breathing, you have experienced this in one way or another.
And so one of the big areas I’ve been noodling around with people, coaching, being supportive… How do I set healthy boundaries?You could be thinking, I’ve got some relationships that I know are toxic and there aren’t any boundaries. What are boundaries? How do I set them in a preexisting relationship?
I had a call recently and I asked someone how are the boundaries? And they just laughed at me. They said, What boundaries? And the truth is, it is not an easy thing to set healthy boundaries. I have two book recommendations from the same author: Henry Cloud. Henry Cloud wrote Boundaries, which I think everyone should read. It has been a bestseller for over 40 years, which should tell you something. You’ll thank me later. Then, he has another book called Necessary Endings, which I will probably reference in this blog. Both of these are phenomenal reads and give you a lot of practicality on how to navigate boundaries.
There are so many other books that have been written, courses have been created, and events have been hosted on this topic. I’m going to give you a quick look at the boundaries. How do we do that? How do we set boundaries?
The first thing I am going to share with you, whether it’s been as a pastor over the last 25 years or as a coach over the last five, six years… it is also the most ideal because it is the starting point.
This might be my most often quoted statement, the quickest way to change is to face reality. As long as something is denied, it cannot be healed. Some of you might be saying, I don’t have any problems, I don’t have any toxic relationships, I don’t have boundary issues. As long as you are closing your eyes, running from the truth, sticking your head in the sand… it is denying the truth. Denying that truth doesn’t allow it to be healed or changed.
And when you face reality, you might have some relationships that are hurting you. They are creating pain and suffering in your life. You’ve got to have the courage and the guts to face reality.
Why? Why don’t we do that?
Is it because we’re scared of what happens when we do because it is going to take an emotional toll? It might cost us some relationships or change drastically the dynamics in some relationships. And it is going to take time and energy. Looks like a lot of reasons to avoid it.
And you know what? I don’t know if this encourages you, but all those things are true. BUT that is not going to get better on its own. You have to bring intention. You have to bring focus. You got to get some guts and face reality. And until you do, it’s never going to change.
Facing reality could be reading a book like Boundaries, it could be having some conversations with some people, it could be journaling… either way, number one is Face Reality.
I cannot remember who I learned this from, but there are things in your life that you are responsible for and there are things in your life that are a concern. Responsibility is for the things only you can be responsible for.
Like, you have to take full responsibility for the food that you eat; no one is force feeding you. You have to take full responsibility for the relationships that you have in your life. That means you are responsible for who you give access to you. You take responsibility for how you respond in a situation. You have to take responsibility if you have a family, if you have children… they are your responsibility and you’ve got to take responsibility for them while you are teaching them so that they can learn they are responsible in the long run for themselves. They’re yours, so you have got to take responsibility. If you are married, you’re responsible for how you show up in your marriage.
And then there are the things that are your concern, but they are not your responsibility. Examples: I am concerned about what my adult children do, I’m concerned about how my employees handle themselves. Some of you might argue, they’re your responsibility. BUT they have to take personal responsibility, so if they do something stupid and get fired… that’s on them and is not your responsibility. Maybe you are concerned about a friend who is getting fat, overweight and denying it. That is a concern. It is not your responsibility, you cannot force them to change.
There are things only you can take responsibility for and then everything else is concerns. And I know if you’re hanging out with me, you love people. And if you love people, you want the best for them. Chances are you have a lot of concerns, some of you might even say you have a burden for these people, I care about these people, I want to help them. Some of you might even say that it’s my mission to help people and living into your mission is your responsibility. BUT know that what other people do with what you have given to them, that is theirs.
Here’s what I want to say to you, going back to that pain and suffering that we create in our lives… when we take something that is a concern and we try to grab hold of it and make it our responsibility. If you are going through addiction… and your family member (I love you, but do the latter instead) and instead of being concerned, supporting you, giving you the resources, helping you get checked in where you need to… it is like they take on the addiction and it creates massive amounts of pain and suffering, because at the end of the day, they can’t fix it. I can’t fix it… because you’re responsible for that.
The reason I am sharing this is because when it comes to setting healthy boundaries, you can’t change the other people and you are not responsible for how they respond. And you’ve got to be able to parse between what are my responsibilities and what are just concerns.
Some of you have got some heavy burden, some mission stuff attached to your concerns. What if you are really passionate and love people? Listen. You have got to learn. Here’s the phrase. LET IT GO. Release it. If you’re a spiritual person, you’ve got to trust (and I’ve got to trust) when we can’t fix it, we can release it to God because it is not our responsibility. I refuse to suffer because someone is not making good decisions and they’re not doing what they need to. So I let it go.
You’ve got some concerns that your boundaries are jacked up because you;fe made some concerns into responsibilities. Have you got some people in your life that are constantly trying to take their responsibilities and throw it on your shoulders and it is creating suffering and pain in that relationship? You have got to let it go. You have got to say no. You have got to set a boundary and tell them that is their responsibility.
This one is BIG! I was just talking with my camera man about this one and when you are navigating these waters, you’re not going to be able to do it alone. You’re going to need some outside perspective to help you see what you cannot see by yourself.
Once you have had the courage to face reality, then you need to bring the right people into the conversation to help you see what you can’t see. Maybe that’s a counselor, a coach, a therapist, a mentor, a close friend; someone who can have an objective view of the situation. Someone who does not have an agenda, but they want the best for you. You have got to tell the truth and get some help.
Ask for help. Ask for help. Otherwise, you are going to keep repeating the cycle and keep repeating the pain. I don’t want that for you.
Decide what your boundaries are going to be. Communicate them with the other party and stay the course decided not in the heat of the moment. Separate from other people, don’t have the conversation in the moment to figure out what your boundaries are going to be.
You cannot have that conversation with a toxic person. And I am going to be honest, when you communicate the boundaries with another party, a controlling party, it is going to make them angry. The scenario will determine what they are going to do; most of you know this because you’ve run the gamut and people have flied off the handle, shouted, smashed, gotten violent (even people you never would have thought). But listen, decide the boundaries separate from the other person.
If it is toxic, decide the boundaries, communicate the boundaries, and stay the course. Stay. The. Course. You can’t set a boundary and waffle on it a week later. Likely, that means it is going to get uglier before it gets better. Many of you have been through this. And I have helped so many people walk through this and it is important to stay the course. I can’t give you the stats but at least half the time, it works out for the benefit. In the long haul, the relationship becomes more whole and healthier with appropriate boundaries. And the other half of the time, it doesn’t. But you can either stay in the toxic relationship and allow them to destroy your quality of life or you can set a boundary and they get the opportunity to choose. And whose responsibility is what they do? Their responsibility. You’re concerned, you want them to choose well… BUT it is their responsibility.
I hope these helped you – face reality, concern versus responsibility, ask for help, decide, communicate and stay the course. Life is too short to allow controlling or angry or unhealed people to make your life miserable. And I know they are doing the best they can with what they have got. Listen, they’ve got to take responsibility and you have got to take responsibility for you.
So I hope this encourages you. Maybe you’re going to take some steps; get a counselor, get a coach to help you walk through this because you can’t do it alone. I hope this served you. Let’s set some boundaries. Have the courage, have the guts. I love you and this is where you should go out there and give your greatness to the world because somebody needs what is on the inside of you. Go out there and give it away. Don’t hold back.