Set Healthy Boundaries…

healthy boundaries After watching three specific incidents over the last several months, I decided it was time to write about healthy, personal boundaries. Certain situations started to really bother me, so I talked about what I was experiencing with close confidants and even a professional in the area of psychology.  I thought I would share my observations and offer suggestions that may help you understand how important it is to set boundaries.

I read an article recently and the author stated,  “I used to keep adjusting my boundaries to fit each relationship. Now I understand that boundaries are about your relationship with yourself and your own values, and that they shouldn’t be so fluid.” 

There have been times when my own husband suggested that I was being too closed off and maybe I should let people in. I should just be more friendly.   Also, I have dealt with pressure from others who seemed to pull at me and insert themselves all the time. Their boundaries were clearly opposite mine and I felt pressured to always be available.

I began to experience an internal struggle.  I found myself, asking myself, “What’s wrong with me? or Is it just me?  Am I suppose to adjust to everyone when I don’t want to? Am I being a snob?  If I have to adjust to everyone, and I don’t want to, am I selfish? Well, I was made to feel that I was. I wanted to know if I was just wired wrong.  Maybe I am or maybe I expect others to understand personal boundaries.

You know what I have come to conclude? Some people do not understand boundaries. You know what else I have found? If you do not establish them upfront, it will be hard to establish them later.  Eventually, however, you will have to create them. At first, you may suffer silently, but the more someone steps beyond your boundaries and you stay quiet on the matter, you will become irritated, frustrated and even resentful. If you allow others to push your boundaries and you say nothing, eventually you will fight or go into flight mode.

                             “In work or in our personal relationships, poor boundaries lead to                                       resentment, anger, and burnout” (Nelson, 2016).

Boundaries-2-2I get why we don’t say anything; why we let things go—we let things go because we think people will just figure it out somehow.  We think they will know when they are being too pushy, too needy, or too dependent. They don’t see that the constant need for you to be the one to fill all of their needs is emotionally draining.  So they go on  doing what is natural them and in the process they are killing you. It’s hard setting healthy, personal boundaries because people think you are being “mean.” Setting boundaries do not make you “mean,” it helps you stay healthy mentally and emotionally.

Do you know anyone who constantly forces themselves beyond your boundaries?  How do you handle them without hurting them? I am going to share some ways that you can establish boundaries, but I cannot promise you that you won’t hurt their feelings:

  1. Examine the boundaries that already exist (or are lacking) in your life. If you have them, enforce them from the beginning. If you don’t have them established, think about what you will accept, write them down, talk to a therapist if you need to, and live with them. Tell people what you will accept and what you will not accept. (Matthew 18:15-20)
  2. Say “No” simply but firmly to something you do not want to do. Do not feel that you need to explain” (Kairns, 1992). Not over-explaining is a crucial aspect of setting boundaries, as everyone has the right to determine what they do and do not want to do.  (Matthew 5:7)
  3. Keep the focus on oneself (IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program). Instead of setting a boundary by saying something like “you have to stop bothering me after work”, one can say “I need some time to myself when I get back from work”.
  4. Set consequences (IPFW/Parkview Student Assistance Program). This means that when setting boundaries, it is important to explicitly state why they are important. For example, someone in an unhealthy relationship might declare that their partner needs to start respecting their career goals more unless they want the relationship to end. It is also crucial to only declare consequences that one is willing to follow through on, or else the boundaries will not be effective.

Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me.  A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins. Although I talked to several friends and confidants, I always go to the Bible to check my thoughts against the Word of God. I have noted scriptures above to help you see that it is good to set boundaries, but read that I read from Bible.org below:

The concept of boundaries is rooted in the nature of God Himself. God defines Himself as a distinct, separate being, and He is responsible for Himself. He defines and takes responsibility for His personality by telling us what He thinks, feels, plans, allows, will not allow, likes and dislikes.” (Bible.org)

 

Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith

 

Works cited:

  1. Positive Psychology program
  2. Bible.org

Shut Up & Listen!

shut up and listenI have been in highly competitive environments all of my adult life. I have been around people who are kind yet ambitious. People who have high confidence and never make others feel less than; and I have been around others who are highly educated and successful, but they don’t talk about what education they have nor boast about how successful they have been. These people are loud, quiet, jolly and reserved, but the one quality that impressed me the most was the emotional intelligence they demonstrated in how to genuinely and authentically connect. I call them selfless people.

Then there are others. They have to make sure you know how popular they are, what they have done, and just how successful they have been in doing whatever it is they have done. They compete too, but they compete with everybody they meet, even if the others are not consciously competing with them.  If they are quiet, it is only to think of how they can impress you with their accomplishments.

Princess DianaI watched a documentary about Princess Diana. I have always had a special place in my heart for her (don’t ask me why; I just do). One of the things that came up from the people who were interviewed for this documentary was how they felt being with her.  These people were not all royals are the “upper class.” They were people in hospitals, on the streets as homeless or those impacted by landmines in Bosnia, all spoke of how she connected with them.  Many of these people were touched by her even after she was no longer the Princess of Wales.  Clearly, she was famous and well-connected, yet, these people felt she cared about them and brought attention to their causes nor her own. She listened.

Then I think of Jesus. What do you think of when you think about Him?  Do you think of someone who was always talking? Probably not. Don’t you see Him as sitting and listening to others? Quietly asking questions and showing an interest in the person He was talking to? I do. I believe He met people where they were and cared about them.  He didn’t find them and rush in to condemn them.  He did not go around telling people who he was and just how vital he was, quite the contrary, he did the opposite. When He restored sight to the blind or healed a man of leprosy, many times we read that He told the person he restored not tell anyone.  He didn’t come for that. He came to do what His Father had sent Him to do.

I can’t help but think of some of the greats throughout history, their stories carry the same storyline, selfless acts rather than acts that pointed to them as an essential person. I also think of the following scripture found in Proverbs 27:2 that says, “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

I have been in many meetings, conferences, and forums where I have met “important” people.  I usually sit and watch.  Most times I stay quiet because I think when I shut up and listen, I learn a lot about others.

Recently I was at a function with quite a few people present.  As one person began to share a personal struggle with our small group, I just sat and listened along with a couple of others. As the person described their excitement about a new process they were developing, another person in the group hijacked the conversation and begin to talk only about themselves and about all they had accomplished; promptly shutting down the accomplishments of the other person. Throughout the evening, various people had an opportunity to share a little about themselves and right away you could tell the ones who were outward focused and those who were inward focused. Ironically, the ones who said the least about themselves were probably the most successful. Guess what else? They were also the ones who listened to others.

Friends and friends…

FriendsI am one to sit quietly so that I can think and reflect.  I generally consider what’s going on in my current life; I think about what I am doing in order to get where I want to go. One thing that I have always made my practice is to take account of those who I allow into my inner circle and how to manage those I don’t let in.  You see some people think that every person they meet is supposed to be a deep and personal friend when that’s just not the case.  It’s just not!

I see friends in certain categories. You may not agree with me, but I will support a couple of my points with scripture for you that think I am being “un-Christian”  or “un-friendly.”

The first level of friendship and is the most important to me is the level I refer to as my Inner Circle.  It goes without saying that my BFF is in this group. Along with that person, these are friends that I have probably (not in all cases) known for a very long time.  Not only have I known them, we have shared values. Those values may be how we look at life in general, how we set goals and pursue them, how we see family and a host of other things. One of the primary reasons they are in my inner circle, however, is because they are TRUSTED.  We have gone through victories and disappointments together and I have watched them support me as I have supported them. They will go through the fire for me and I will walk through flames for them.  Those in my inner circle are closer than family members. No one could convince me that they would betray me and they know that I would never betray them. My inner circle is small and years have been invested in our relationship. These are my most trusted confidants and the people who get to speak into my life and influence it.

innercircleJesus had an inner circle too. They were His disciples, yes but even within the inner circle of His disciples, there were some who were even closer, or rather, he allowed to see things others did not see. These disciples shared in some of Jesus’ joys and sorrows.  Peter, James, and John were the only disciples allowed to accompany Jesus when he raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Mark 5:37). These same disciples were the only ones on the mountain when Jesus was transfigured in the presence of Moses and Elijah (Mark 9:2).  Jesus even gave nicknames to these three. I didn’t say that they were His favorite, I am just pointing out that not all of His disciples experienced Him the same.

Then there is another group of friends. They are good friends too, but they will not be the people I will call on in a life crisis because I don’t know them like that. They are casual friends. We have a level of trust and we enjoy being around each other, but generally we do so just for fun. There is no deep relationship yet; we have not experienced life together yet. Casual friendships can develop into stronger, deeper ones. We probably share similar personal and professional goals and certainly share similar values. They are people I like and will spend time with, but we do not have anything concrete to build our relationship on yet. I may share some of my life stories with them, but the deep things of my heart will probably not be shared for a very long time.

Associations are another group of friends. You probably have some things in common with them, maybe your work or some social activity, but you may not have similar professional or personal goals; you just don’t know. You probably only know each other on the surface from some activity you’ve been engaged in. You don’t hang out, you just see each other occasionally. Trust isn’t a real issue because the exchange of personal information probably isn’t an issue.

Acquaintances will be the last group I will talk about.  You have no real relationship with acquaintances, you just see each other or know of each other in loose terms. You will say hi and bye, exchange pleasantries and if they need help, you will help.  Generally, you will not share any personal life stories, even if they decided to share theirs with you.  They may trust you because of your wisdom or some kind of expertise they think you possess. You may share limited information with your acquaintances because you have no idea what you can share.

That’s it.  I don’t want this all academic, but I did want to lay this out before I say what I really want to say.  Watch who you allow into your inner circle. Every person you meet will not be a close personal friend.  Watch what you say and who you say it to.  Just because a person laughs with you, does not mean that they will cry with you.  Just because a person is willing to share their victories with you does not mean that they will share the joy of yours.  At times,  some people maneuver to try to be “friends” with those they think can open doors for them.  Be real, that’s not friendship, it’s called jockeying for one’s own self-interest.  If you behave like this, just know that those who you are trying to get close to see it too

My grandfather used to say, “if you want friends, show yourself friendly.” He was quoting  Proverbs 18:24.  Be a good friend, but also make sure those you allow closest to you are also good friends because they will be the ones who will influence you the most.

I Ran In The Rain…

Running n d rainI ran in the rain this morning.  Did I know that it was raining before I went out? Of course I did. I almost didn’t go because of it. I opened my garage door, looked to see if it was coming down really hard, stood there for a moment, closed the garage and went back into my house and sat in the living room waiting for the rain to subside.  I sat there for a few minutes, maybe 5 or 10, hoping it would stop but it didn’t. I got up and went back to the garage, opened the door and looked at it again, but this time I decided to just go. So I ran.

I had to run this morning.  During my devotional time, I thanked God for the rain. I told Him that He had put this love of the rain in me; I didn’t know why, but I feel deeply that He did. Also during my prayer time this morning, I remember asking God to cleansed me and revive in me a new spirit. I prayed for a washing of my mind. I asked Him to forgive anything in me that offended Him or anyone. Finally, I remember saying to Him to create in me a pure heart. (Psalm 51:10)

As I ran in the rain this morning, I could hear myself going back to what I journaled earlier. At one point I thought the rain was dying down, for a minute, it felt lighter. I smiled and thanked God for that. I stopped at a red light and as I stood there, I prayed again for a cleansing and a renewing of my mind.(Romans 12:2) All of a sudden, an outpour began. I laughed because I felt God was saying to me, “Here you are. Think of this as Me washing away the old; the old feelings, the old filth and creating you new this morning.”  I accepted that right then and there.

James 4-10You may not believe in God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but I do.  One thing that is foundational in my faith, is the need to repent and ask for forgiveness. To realize that He is in charge and not me. When pride, ego, and self, or should I say, selfishness, gets ahead of my commitment to Him, I have to remember to step back and acknowledge that as sin too. Thinking of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I become small (humble) as I stand in His presence.  The Word of God says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” James 4:10. So I pray for a more humble spirit and a clean heart.

Lord during this month of fasting, my He be exalted and we be humbled.

Pray First…

i hate waitingI am a high achiever. I am all about achieving one thing and moving on to the next. I get a rush out of being able to check another goal accomplished off my list.  If you are the same, you already know that people like us want things done and they want them done now.  We tend to think that the next thing is waiting to be conquered and we are the ones to conquer.  People like us can be high strung and just can’t sit still. We are BIG Picture people continually developing a strategy for the next thing. Time is money, so don’t we don’t believe in wasting time!

Hold on though!  There is a problem with being like us. We can get easily frustrated; especially if things are moving too slow. When I was young, that meant bad news for those around me. Let’s just say, I wasn’t very patient. Now that I am older, I am a lot better. When frustration sets in, I try not to talk much. Maybe I am this way because of how extreme I behaved in my younger days. Anyway, something happened recently, and I realized just how much I have changed.

If you have read anything I have written in the past, you know that I believe in Jesus. You also know that I think when He said in John 14:16 “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” that He meant it. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit to “lead and guide us.”  For me, that scripture means He will help when I feel stressed, frustrated, overwhelmed, ticked off,  confused, unsettled or whatever destructive emotion I may experience. God already knows what I need, I just need to give my feelings to Him by releasing them to the Holy Spirit.

prayer-changes-thingsWhen I mention the name, DMV, many of you have the same images come to mind as I do; inefficient, slow, uncaring, paper-pushers, unproductive and the rudest people you can meet!  Maybe that’s why my husband had a problem when he had to deal with them on my behalf.  He was at the DMV all day beginning at 745 that morning. He came home around 3pm. I came home after him, and  when I walked in and said “Hello Darling” and got very little response, I should have guessed something was wrong.  I went to the kitchen to make some food and yelled, “do you want something to eat?” “No,” he replied. I looked and realized I was talking, and he was not talking because he was on the phone.  I sat down at the table and began to eat. When he finally got off the phone, he told me what happened at the DMV. He looked beat! Well, he didn’t get done what I needed. He had all my paperwork and handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”  Well, ok, but I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally getting the right person that took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

Well, he didn’t get done what I needed and deep inside, I was not happy about that. I didn’t say anything though. I saw all my paperwork in his hands and he handed it to me and said, “you need to ….”.  I wasn’t happy. After I finished eating, I sat down quietly and began making call after call, from DMV in California to Jaguar USA to Jaguar in Dallas to DMV Headquarters in Sacramento to finally get the right person on the line who took care of my situation.  Along the way, I heard myself praying and asking the Holy Spirit to keep me calm and patient. He did.  I had finally achieved my goal without blowing up. But it wasn’t over. The next day at the local DMV would be the greatest challenge for the Holy Spirit and me.

I had to get up early to go to a meeting.  I dressed and got out on highway 57 to sit in the morning parking lot of traffic. My goodness, I thought everyone would be on vacation; it is the week before Christmas. At least the traffic was moving. I got to my meeting, we finished up around 1115, and I headed over to DMV without an appointment. I got there, and to my amazement, there were very little people outside (that’s a good sign). I went to the “do not have appointment line” that is usually out the door but was short today. I stood behind a guy that was pleasant, and we talked about our experiences. We were three and four in line! Well, it was his time, I wished him luck, and he did the same. I got to the window, no problem, got my waiting ticket and went to sit down. The entire time I sat there waiting, I prayed “Lord, please make my path straight.” When I was called about an hour later, I walked up to the window, explained my situation, gave the man my papers, he processed them and “BOOM!” I was done! No frustration, no confusion, no annoying conversation.

You may say “so what?” I tell you “so what” I felt from the beginning of the frustration before I got on the phone, if I started with prayer, I would approach the situation with a better attitude. I knew that if I believed and relied on the Holy Spirit to guide me, I would not rush and become impatient. I know that prayer changes things, but more importantly, prayer and the Holy Spirit changes us.

The Power of Words…​

wordshavepowerHow do words affect you? Are there words that immediately turn you off?  They just rub you the wrong way? That’s how I feel about the word “businessman” being used in a meeting of any kind in the 21st century.  I may be wrong, and I pray to not be so easily offended, but in a day and time like now, if you haven’t gotten it, you never will. Your words matter. They can be demeaning or empowering in the context of work. What’s worst is, I hear sexist words more in Christian settings than in others; why?

The truth is, I actually understand why, but my God, enough of living in the dark ages already.  It is time to appreciate the subtleness of your words.  To me, when a person, generally the person is male and holds a level of leadership, makes sexist phrases, first off, it seems ignorant.  Those who do so seem oblivious to the fact that today, in 2017, there are lots of businesswomen. In fact, there are 32 women in CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. The top 4 are at General Motors, IBM, Pepsico, and Lockheed Martin. Guess what? 2017 holds the record number of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies! That says something.

So, why do I get up in a funk about the word “businessmen?” Because the term is sexist.  It just is.  The proper term that should be used is businessperson or business leader. Why? To work to get rid of stereotypes!

Okay, so I will get off my soapbox for now. Please be patient with me, but I do want to share with you why the word bothers me so much.  When I hear the word being used, typically, the person using it has no idea how much they may be overlooking a businesswoman in the room. This woman in some cases may have far more business experience and a greater understanding of how to cast vision, develop strategy, set goals and use the emotional intelligence she has to build high-performing teams. She knows how to drive for bottom-line results just like the man. But when she is sitting in the room, with a bunch of men and every one of them have no problem with the presenter saying businessman and not correcting him, that is a problem.

sexismRecently, I was at a Christian conference focused on business leaders. The presenter was so refreshing. As he spoke, I listened carefully. What struck me about him was his sensitivity in making sure when he said the word businessmen, he also said businesswomen.  He did this throughout his entire speech. Did he get my attention and my respect? You bet he did.

Words matter. Why? Words can empower or marginalize. I hate being marginalized. Maybe you don’t, but I do.

I feel it’s important to say something so that it does not continue. Now, this may not bother you, and that’s okay, but you know that I am bothered and now you may consider that there are probably others around you who are annoyed too.  Don’t just excuse yourself and say, “They are too touchy, or they are too sensitive.”  Just don’t.  If I say something that may be bothering you, tell me. I would want someone to tell me so that I can stop doing it.  If I care, I will stop. If I don’t care, I will make an excuse and continue with the same behavior.

Little things grow into big ones.  Whether the issue is one that no one ever thought would be a big deal like, you know, sexual harassment?  All the things that were said 20 years ago suddenly have come full circle. I bet some of the people affected look back and wish they had never said or did what they did, now careers are destroyed, reputations ruined and families are in turmoil.

If you are a Believer, the world should not set the standard of how you should behave, whether you are at work or at church, you are to set a tone of fairness, justice, and equality.  I think Jesus would.  When I read the Bible, I don’t see Jesus making distinctions between male and female (some will argue differently, and that’s okay).

Just remember the next time you are in a boardroom, a meeting, sitting on a committee, or in some kind of setting where men and women get to play, men and women are playing equally.  They are both needed, and there is no environment where one is competent, and the other is not. Either can be capable just like either may not be capable.  Your words, though, sends a message; what will your message be?

Remember,  “Let us not love in word or tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)

You Make Life Matter…

 

you make life matterI believe that many of our problems can be averted if we would honestly seek to understand other people.  I think many of today’s issues would go away if we weren’t so angry and ready to pounce on each other. I would like to believe that if people would stop talking so much, insisting on being heard, would stop and think before speaking, maybe, just maybe, they would hear what the other person is trying to communicate.

I tell you what I think. I think that today, many feel that they are more important than the other person. We have easily demonized each other, so we don’t have to listen to each other. We are bent on getting our point of view out there, that we don’t have time or patience to wait to hear the other person.  For some, it’s like being on stage.  The problem with the limelight is that we forget sometimes like it so much, we release all inhibitions.

Just think about this for a moment, every one of us ultimately wants to feel that we matter. We want to feel appreciated. I am God’s child.   I am made in His image, and that makes me feel good about me.  You, too, were made in His image. You are who you are, and that’s okay with Him.  Disagreements happen because we have different experiences that we wish others would stop and try to see. When they don’t, we get frustrated. We want people to change to be like us and they won’t, so we get angry.  We want people to hear us, and they don’t, so we get louder and

Stop arguing and start looking at each other as a child of God.  I am God’s child, and so are you.  I am made in His image, and so are you. You are who you are, and that’s okay with Him, but He loves me too.  Disagreements happen because we have different experiences that we wish others would stop and try to see. When they don’t, we get frustrated. We want people to change to be like us and they won’t, so we get angry.  We want people to hear us, and they don’t, so we get louder and more hostile. Ultimately we shut down any and all channels to communicate and to learn to appreciate each other’s ideas, thoughts, and their uniqueness.

When we refuse to change for someone else, when we then stand our ground, not willing to bend an inch to understand the other person, I think we lose.

be the changeThe truth is, no one has to change anything You don’t have to change your views to match mine; nor do you have to change your way of thinking. You don’t have to change your looks to look like the runway models; you don’t have to change so that you have thousands of friends to be okay and you don’t have to be anywhere near perfect either. You are who you are, made in God’s image. However, don’t forget that the person you disagree with is also made in the image of God. Neither may act like they are, but they are. Their behavior may suggest differently, but God still loves both of them. God loves the entire world.

If we agree that there was only one perfect person that walked this earth, Jesus, maybe we can begin to accept that we are different from others and at the same time, we are just like all others, imperfect.

I can’t change how you see the world, but I will tell you that when the world looks at you, the extraordinary people see a unique person with qualities and attributes that only are given to you. If you say to me that there are those who don’t see you, I say, maybe they are not supposed to.  God sees you. He made you. He loves you. You don’t have to accept Him, but He accepts you.

I pray that I will learn to accept others just like Jesus did. Don’t you?LaSharnda

Dr. LaSharnda Beckwith