Lately, I have been reading books about the mind and about the networks in our brain that are influenced by relationships, other factors, or stressors in life. On the other hand, I have also been reading about how we are able to rewire the brain through epigenics and through the changing of our thoughts, which is biblical in terms of taking every thought captive. The book that goes into this topic that I have currently been reading is called “Switch on Your Brain” by Caroline Leaf and I highly recommend it.
Anyway, one of the things that I have been learning is that setting boundaries is quite integral to being at peace and ensuring that we are taking every thought captive, for the destructive actions and choices of another individuals can, and oftentimes does, impact our lives and our peace as well.
However, for so long, there has been this misconception that setting boundaries equates to “not loving someone” or that setting boundaries translates into you “not wanting to be close to others,” which is not true. In fact, if you do not have boundaries and do not have a standard principle in which you stand by, then the destructive behaviors of another person will become your standard and will infiltrate your peace of mind.
Therefore, having boundaries is important to any healthy, normal, and functional relationship and peace of mind. If anyone tells you different it is because they are more than likely engaging in dysfunctional behaviors and do not like the idea of being placed on healthy boundaries, for as the old adage says, “misery loves company.”
“Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Put away from you false and dishonest speech, and willful and contrary talk put far from you.Let your eyes look right on [with fixed purpose], and let your gaze be straight before you.” Proverbs 4:23-25
As a young 24 year old woman, I have learned the beauty in setting boundaries and it has drastically given me the peace of Christ that He wants me to have. As a person who yearns to help people, it can become hard to set boundaries as it is my desire to be there for others. However, there comes a point where trying to help someone can negatively impact yourself, for in the end, only Jesus can change someone, not you or me.
And so I am going to share tips that I have learned through growing in the Lord on how to set boundaries, for it is the Lord’s desire for you to live in peace of mind as well as living in peace with others without dysfunction.
1: Leave the room when you are not being treated right or notice that someone is projecting how they are hurting onto you through their words or actions.
Have you ever had someone try to bring you down or to ruin your mood simply because they were in a bad mood? Have you ever had someone treat you badly and then blame it for how they are feeling? This type of behavior is known as projecting. While projecting oftentimes gives us clues that this person is hurting, it is never okay to want to hurt someone in return or to want to bring someone else into dysfunction simply because of a wound that is unhealed.
Therefore, if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone has an attitude that is negative or will cause you to become hurt by their actions, then do not be afraid to walk away. Oftentimes, I will say “I can see that your attitude is negative, and so I am going to walk away until we can talk at better time,” for this will show the person that you see they are having a bad moment but will not tolerate being the “victim” of their wound.
While this can cause the person to become offended, if you do not set boundaries in how you are spoken to or treated, you will begin teaching people how to treat you. Therefore, if you allow someone to talk down to you or allow someone to treat you poorly simply because they are having a bad mood, then you are showing them that you can be walked on and will not stand up for yourself respectfully.
However, when you do address the issue and firmly and respectfully say that you will leave the room, it shows that you will not tolerate it and will resume the conversation at a later time.
2: Place healthy distance from people who drain you
Have you ever met someone that only talked about negative things or always had a negative outlook? Have you ever been in a conversation where the topic of discussion was draining or made you feel as if you were depleted? This is another common destructive behavior that will drain you if you do not keep it in a proper boundary.
Therefore, if you notice that you continuously give advice to a friend, and yet they seemly want to stay in a toxic behavior or if you notice that you leave a conversation drained rather than feeling rejuvenated, it is time to place some distance between your interactions. Am I saying to completely shut this person out? No, for again, this person is in need of healing that only Christ can give, but what I am saying is that you need to be cautious with how much time you spend with this person.
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19 NLT
As the Word says, we have the ability to choice life or death and blessing or cursing, and to be around a person who chooses death or cursing through their negativity can hinder our ability from choosing blessing in Christ. It is imperative to our walk with Christ that we surround ourselves with people that will uplift us; however, when we surround ourselves with those who drain our spirit from growing in Christ, it can hinder us from being able to think on things that are pure, noble, and joyful in HIS sight.
Therefore, distancing yourself from them and being cautious about who is in your innermost circle of influences is very crucial to your walk with the Lord, for bad company can corrupt our joy and peace in Christ. While you are not called to ignore this person, you can still be loving and gracious to this person while still placing distance between them in terms of how close you allow them to you.
3: Refuse to engage in conversation on things that are not edifying in Christ or are toxic.
“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.” Ephesians 4:29 AMPC
One thing that I have found freedom in is being able to stop a conversation due to knowing where it is going. Therefore, if someone is beginning a conversation that is not edifying in Christ or is toxic in nature, respectfully change the topic and end the conversation. Many times will I say, “I would rather not talk about this matter anymore” or “I would rather not have this conversation, for you already know where I stand on the issue” for it lets people know where I stand. While the tone is firm, it is also respectful in nature while letting the person know that I am willing to converse with them, but not about toxic things or things that are not glorifying to the Lord.
It is important to have the ability to stand up for yourself, for when you do not set the tone for a conversation, the conversation can easily go out of control and become draining. As we follow the Lord and seek Him daily, we should not entertain conversations or gossip that does not reflect Him. Therefore, having the ability to not engage in toxic conversations is imperative to living as Jesus and loving as Jesus.
In the end, these are three tips that I personally use to set healthy boundaries with people protect my walk with the Lord. While it may seem harsh and mean to some, your walk with the Lord is more important and it is very easy to have your walk with the Lord starved by the toxicity of another person. While the Lord calls us to love one another, we are not called to have everyone within our innermost circle of close friends; therefore, it is important to discern the spirit, pray about the motives of people, and to be able to set those boundaries.
Because in the end, you cannot change anyone, for only Christ can, but you can change the people who impact you, for you are more likely to become who you are around more than them become like you. Therefore be wise in choosing who is in your circle and make sure you set those boundaries to protect your peace in Christ.