Monday, July 2, 2012

Boundaries: When to say yes, how to say no to take control of your life

There is a book that I would like to STRONGLY recommend to you to purchase and read. It is called “Boundaries: When to say Yes, how to say No to take control of your life,” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. For the next several months I am going to be sharing from their chapter on the 10 laws of boundaries.

I believe the spiritual, psychological, and social construct of boundaries is vital to having healthy relationships in all aspects of life. “Any confusion of responsibility and ownership in our lives is a problem of boundaries. Just as homeowners set physical property lines around their land, we need to set mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual boundaries for our lives to help us distinguish what is our responsibility and what isn’t. And this is one of the most serious problems facing Christians today. Many sincere, dedicated believers struggle with tremendous confusion about when it is biblically appropriate to set limits” (Cloud & Townsend, p.27-28).

We are continually asked by life to do more, accept more, take on more, and all with limited resources or with limited abilities. This puts a tremendous stress on individual systems, family systems, and larger corporate systems. There have to be some limits on what an individual, family, or larger system can take without breaking or otherwise being harmed.

Starting next month and following, I will be sharing from the 10 Laws of Boundaries, which is chapter 5 of the book if you are so interested in reading for yourself. I am a strong proponent of setting limits in capacities because I know the resources that are used in my life are limited. I can only handle so much psychological, emotional, physiological and even spiritual pressure before I begin to breakdown or collapse.
I also think it is important to know how and when to say NO. I remember Nancy Reagan coming out with the Just Say No program back in the 1980’s. In the 21st century, life makes it really difficult to say no. If you say no to something in church, then you are disappointing God. If you say no to a family request, then you risk disappointment by a family member. If you say no at work, then you risk losing your job. If you say no in a relationship then you risk rejection by that person. And so, we grow up with having to say yes to anything and everything and made to feel guilty by society for not complying or setting limits to what we can or cannot accomplish.

The definition of anxiety is the sense of impending doom. Anxiety can cause all sorts of reactions and responses. Treatment for anxiety is to help the individual or family system look towards healthier coping mechanisms for dealing with stressors, improving communication with self/others, and restoring a sense of well-being established in what is rational, known, understood, and felt. Anxiety results, for the most part, from dents/breaks in our boundaries. We begin to let ourselves be ruled by fear, constant worry, fueled by the unknowns and what-ifs rather than taking the time to acknowledge what is attacking us and considering an appropriate response.

Go get the book. I recommend this book second to the Bible, and coming from me that is a strong recommendation. Begin to read about how to start (or continue) establishing appropriate and healthy limits in your capacities for your health and the health of your relationships.

Grace and Peace,

Dr. Trey

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