Common Myths About Setting Boundaries
If boundaries are important, then why do you think they are often avoided or not maintained?
That is a great question! There are eight common myths as to why people do not set boundaries, identified in Cloud & Townsends’ teachings. Here, we are only going to examine the top three. As you read them, identify any you may be believing.
The first myth we will look at is,
“When I say no or set a limit, I’m being selfish.”
No, you can’t go out with all of your friends. It is a school night and you know the rules. Besides, you still have homework to do.
That’s not fair. You just don’t want me to have any fun. You’re stuck at home, so now you’re making me stay home too.
No, I’m sorry I can’t take you to the airport at 4am because I have a big presentation in the morning that I need to be ready for.
You don’t care about me. You are only concerned about work and yourself.
The Truth is we are not being selfish. Instead we are acting out of our own understanding instead of reacting to someone else’s actions. We are actually being a greater help by not letting outside forces influence us to enter into situations that are bad for us. We can make the argument that we are being self-centered and if we take a look at the positive definition, it means to be independent of outside force or influence. We hold our boundaries despite what others might say because it is best for ourselves.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and do not again be held with the yoke of bondage.
If you struggle with maintaining boundaries for fear of being selfish, it is important to examine yourself and find why that is. If there are people in your life that do not respect your boundaries and accuse you of being selfish, it is also important to examine your relationship and talk with them. Have you been selfish in areas; have you been respectful of their boundaries. We discuss this in more detail with the Laws of Boundaries.
The second myth we will look at says,
“If I set limits, I’m going to lose love or be hurt.”
If you give in and follow the crowd just so you can fit in with a group at school, church or even work, do they even know the real you? Is it then possible for them to like the real you if they are not seeing the real you?
The Truth is they are not connecting with the real you, but instead connecting to the you that you want them to see. If you are judging that a person or group will abandon or reject you if you hold to your boundaries, you are allowing that judgment to come back on you. You have, in fact, just abandoned and rejected yourself and committed the act that you were afraid of. If the other person truly loves or respects you, they will understand and respect your boundaries.
Romans 12:2 Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God—what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect.
If this is something you struggle with, it is important to find the root of this fear.
The final myth to discuss here is
“Setting a boundary makes me feel guilty or bad.”
Believing this myth is often identified with the expression, “But they’ve done so much for me. They have always been there to help me.” We overlook our boundaries with the belief that we now owe them.
The Truth is that Love is a free gift without a price tag or I.O.U. If the help given in the past was done out of love, then there are no conditions, real or perceived. If someone is putting conditions based on what they have done for you in the past, then are they really friends? At the same time, if it is a perception that conditions are being placed on you, then why? Basing how you feel about yourself on how others treat you skews our perception and leads us to this feeling. Healthy boundaries help you to base your value off of truth; who you are in Christ.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; it is not jealous or conceited or proud; love is not ill mannered or selfish or irritable; love does not keep a record of wrongs; love is not happy with evil, but is happy with the truth. Love never gives up; and its faith, hope, and patience never fail.
Do any of these myths ring true in your ears and heart? The challenge is on! As parents, it is important to model and maintain healthy boundaries because our children learn how to create and maintain boundaries by observing us. They watch how you treat yourself and others. If you struggle with boundaries in your relationship with them, they will struggle with boundaries in their relationships with others.
It is never too late to change or set boundaries with the people in your life. You might meet some resistance, especially when you didn’t have them before. They will adjust and appreciate you more in the end because you will be able to respect yourself and respect their boundaries.
Oops…I think I just revealed a topic in our next installment…The Law of Boundaries!