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Boundaries help us protect, take care of, and respect ourselves and others, but it's not always easy to recognize, express or enforce our boundaries. This group is about what boundaries are - discussions about all things related to boundaries.

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What are Boundaries?

The purpose of having boundaries is to protect and take care of ourselves. It means being able to tell people when they are acting in ways that aren't acceptable to us, but in a way that is respectful and loving at the same time. Many of us confuse caring with being a doormat, saying "Yes," when we want to say "No," but feeling guilty or "unchristian," if we decline to help, give or participate in things. Just because we're Christians we're not doormats. There's a difference between being a servant and being abused.


Boundaries are NOT about controlling, manipulating or influencing another person's actions, beliefs, lifestyle or life. Boundaries are the rules and guidelines we establish for ourselves. For instance, my father yelled, screamed, cursed and beat me growing up. I came to believe that was normal and I let other people treat me like that. When I learned about boundaries I decided I didn't like being yelled at, hit or threatened.  So, when someone raises their voice or yells at me - like my boss used to do. I express my boundaries.


I told my boss, "When you yell my name across the office I feel like you're screaming at me. I feel embarrassed. I'm happy to get up and come over to help, but I would like you to use the phone. I won't respond anymore when you yell."  He gave me all these reasons about why he didn't want to, and I listened and smiled and said, "I understand it's inconvenient for you, and I won't respond to being yelled at anymore."  He couldn't really say too much, Human Resources was not going to back him up for wanting to yell at me!! I didn't tell him NOT to yell at me, only that I would not respond to him if he did. I couldn't control HIS behavior, but I could control mine.


"Setting boundaries is not a more sophisticated way of manipulation - although some people will say they are setting boundaries, when in fact they are attempting to manipulate.  The difference between setting a boundary in a healthy way and manipulating is:  when we set a boundary we let go of the outcome."

Discussion Forum

Great Books, Websites and Videos About Boundaries

Do you have a favorite book, website or video you'd like to share about boundaries? Please post a link here along with a brief description or comment! Thank you!Continue

Tags: boundaries

Started by Becky Dec 18, 2010.

Do you know how to say "No"?

Ever have someone ask you to help out with a bake-sale, or to teach a class, baby-sit, or do something for them or the church? You don't have time and you really wouldn't want to do it anyway, but…Continue

Tags: no, say

Started by Becky Dec 18, 2010.

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Comment by Becky on January 17, 2012 at 11:55pm

Yep! It does. Up and down and up, up, up and so on until we heal!

Comment by Brenda Turner on January 17, 2012 at 10:13pm

Thank you Becky!   I very much appreciate your kind comments and certainly appreciate the prayers.  It gets better, day by day. 


Comment by Becky on January 17, 2012 at 3:19pm

It sounds like you're doing exactly what you need to do to heal yourself. No one knows us as well as we know ourselves. I hear that you are very aware of your feelings, your needs and your boundaries. You said "No," appropriately and it was respected. No matter what you do now there will be pain — that's just life in a sinful world. But you are resting, healing and doing great as far as I can tell from this description! I'll pray for peace and continued healing. I think you are doing exactly the things you know you need and that is fantastic!

Comment by Brenda Turner on January 17, 2012 at 9:22am


Thank you for kind comments.  I have to say, I am just at the point where my divorce is final.  So you asked how my week has been - it was final this week.  I have mixed emotions and a little "torn up" about it, even though I know it had to be.  My church has heard me, and has said it was definitely Biblical on several counts.


I am struggling this week.  Yes, the healing must begin.  I did begin to get some counseling too.  Yes, I have actually set some boundaries with my church.  This may sound weird, but they were trying to help - but they weren't helping!  I know they meant well, but I was receiving "pressure", not help.


So I told them I knew they were trying to help, but could they please just let me do what I needed to for a while?  I even mentioned taking a break from church - which I did for a short time, but I'm back in choir by tomorrow night for practice.


They did as I asked and have been good about it.  My choir director has been especially helpful in a quiet way - he always sends out prayer requests and he has added me on there, and seeing it is giving me more courage.

I have not had much opportunity to exercise other boundaries this week.  I am doing something I should not, I think - isolating.  I wanted to rest, but I believe its time for the rest to end because it is becoming isolation.

thank you for asking and your kindness.

Comment by Wanda Day on January 17, 2012 at 12:11am

I misspelled compromised, I apologize.

Comment by Wanda Day on January 17, 2012 at 12:10am

Brenda, I am sorry to hear of  your abuse. I too was in an abusive relationship and I empathize with what you are saying. I am also glad to know youhave a church that is supportive of you.  Now that you are empowered and have an understanding that  you have worth and value the task of not being abused or used will certainly be on the top of your list as you have stated; I would add to you allowing God to continue to heal you. It is a process. The more He heals the more you grow and setting boundaries won't be so hard. After I left my husband, I was still in the abuse victim mode. I had to learn that it was ok to heal even though I had taken all the classes and participated in groups for boundaries. Once the healing began, I could see where boundaries fit in my life. At first it was hard to set them and then as I became stronger, it was necessary  for all that I learned in boundaries to become a part of my life. I still struggle but thank God I am no longer the doormat I once was.  How has your week been? Have you set a boundary this week and haven't comprised? 

Comment by Brenda Turner on January 6, 2012 at 7:28pm

Thank you Becky - I know this too.  Actually the boundaries with my family are not the hard part.  It was boundaries with a seriously abusive husband - one who controlled me and took over my life.

I should have stopped it in the beginning - but that was before I was educated on boundaries.

So then I spent almost 20 years - safety issues became so bad I had to flee (sometimes in the middle of the night) and spent time in safe houses, and you name it.

Also, because I had cancer and some other serious illnesses, my work history was badly affected so much of the time I did not work (was not really able to) and during these times he strengthened his grip on me.

I am dealing with this now.  But it has not been easy.  He works in engineering and makes a good living - so money also helps him on the legal end.  And so, escaping this - this horrible violation of my boundaries, not to mention betrayal by somebody who originally said he loved me - except being beaten, driven from your own home and other things - are not love!

So I guess my case is a good example of what lack of boundaries can lead to.

I am safe enough now.  I am connected to a very good church who is teaching me Biblically and God willing - my life may straighten out. 

But lack of boundaries and not recognizing how this was growing and building in the first place, almost literally destroyed me.

I think my task is now to make sure I remember not to let anybody use/abuse me like this again.  Although I didn't want it the first time either - not by a long shot!

Comment by Becky on January 6, 2012 at 9:40am

Consequences. We cannot control other people, or their actions. We can only control OUR response and actions. People are going to violate your boundaries. That's what unhealthy, unsafe people do. Once you determine your boundaries you need to determine the consequences for people who violate those boundaries. For instance, I have a friend who is never on time anywhere. When we meet for lunch she's always 20 minutes late. I didn't like that because I'm always 5 minutes early! I didn't like tying up a table or explaining to the waitress that my friend is "just late," every 5 minutes. So I told my friend, "I like having lunch with you, but I don't like having to wait on you. My time is important to me and to those around me. When you are late every time I feel disrespected. So, I'm asking you to be on time from now on. If you are late again, I'm going to order my food and eat, and when I'm finished, I'm going to leave an hour after I arrive whether you are there, or are finished eating or not."

She apologized and vowed not to be late again. But she was—30 minutes late! When she arrived I was already half-way into my meal. By the time her meal came it was time for me to go, so I did! She got angry, but I reminded her of my boundary and the consequences. She had to eat alone, something she hates to do." I couldn't control her behavior, but I could control my actions. The consequence to her for violating my boundary was I left when I said I would. Eventually we stopped meeting for lunch because she could never be on time. I hate that because I enjoy her company, but I hate waiting more than I like her.

If your family is abusive to you, then set your boundary. "I no longer allow people to talk to me in demeaning, abusive ways. I'd like to have a conversation with you about this, but if you're going to belittle or ridicule me then I'm going to hang up the phone, or leave the room, or leave the house. If you continue to be abusive I'm not going to have a relationship with you."  Then, when they violate your boundary, keep your consequence. Hang up. Leave. It's not negotiable. If (and when) they get angry, that's THEIR problem, not yours. You let them know what is acceptable behavior and they weren't able to respect that so the consequence to them is— you leave. You know the consequence of speeding is a ticket, so you don't speed. When God said "The consequence of sin is death," He means it. So we don't sin if we don't want the consequence.

Consequences are what protects you. You can control the consequences. You can't control people violating your boundaries. It's okay to walk away, to hang up the phone, to not respond to email. People will tell you you are selfish or unchristian, but that's their way of trying to manipulate you into doing what they want you to do. Ignore that. Say, "I can see how you might think I'm being selfish and that doesn't change anything on my end. I will still walk out, hang up or leave if you continue to be abusive to me. It's your choice. Do you want to speak respectfully to me so I stay? Or do you want me to leave because you're screaming, critical or abusive?" 

Is there a specific situation where they violate your boundaries?

Comment by Brenda Turner on January 5, 2012 at 11:59pm

Thanks Becky and Wanda!  I understand all you said.  I have been working on it, trust me!  

But what happens when you determine what your boundaries are, but a person still keeps violating them?  And what happens if you set consequences or rather what you will do if your boundaries are violated, and you still have somebody violate them?

Because for me, this is my family of origin, unfortunately.  Except I do think that after quite a few years of struggle now, some of my boundaries are finally being respected. 

The theme of abuse runs rampant in my family - people in my family are either "the abused and victim" or "the abusers". 

It makes for a very dysfunctional family!

Comment by Becky on January 4, 2012 at 8:41pm

That is a great accomplishment! Wow!! Good for you! I can say that too cause I've been homeless and they can pick up on the resentment and it makes them feel worse. Better always to give out of love and because you WANT to, NEVER because you feel guilty. GOOD FOR YOU! I always struggle with the generous part too...and it's hard. I want to help, to love, to give, but I know if I give out of guilt or grudgingly it's a sin. Jesus said the lord loves a "cheerful" giver...Even Jesus said no to people...he may have changed his mind, like the woman who wanted her daughter healed and he said the food was not meant for her, but she said even the dogs eat the crumbs from the master's table. I think that was a great answer, but he did say "no" at first! What matters is the attitude of our heart. It is definitely okay to set a boundary and not feel guilty. It takes a while to get past the guilt feelings, but we do get there!!!


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