This week we will be talking about boundaries and how that ties in to self-care. Last week we discussed how the mind plays a huge part in how we take care of ourselves. How we think and respond to life around us has a huge impact on our stress level and ability to deal with stress. And life is stressful. Even if things are going well, just dealing with modern technology and the speed at which we live is extremely draining. Add in a few life "bumps" and well, it doesn't take long before our emotional bank has hit empty.

How do having good boundaries help in this area? Why is this even connected to self-care? Later on in the blog I will share Margaret Feinberg's personal experience with learning Boundaries as she shared in her recent book, Wonderstruck.

First, let's define boundaries. I'm going to be using info from primarily two or three books, which I will include a reference to at the end of this blog.

Boundaries is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as:

 A line that marks the limits of an area. A dividing line.

Other sources define boundaries as a symbolic line in the sand: Something that indicates a border or limit

 Or one of my favorites, is using the symbol of a circle. This is found in the book, Boundaries: Where You End and I Begin by Anne Katherine, M.A. In the book, which is primarily used with people who have suffered sexual abuse sometime in their life, they have an exercise at the end of chapter one. You are in the middle of a circle and everything that you love, believe, feel, want, desire, hate, is in that circle. You decide what is in the circle and you decide what is outside the circle. If you do not have good boundaries, then that circle really doesn't exist. If you don't have a strong sense of self, you are going to allow things in that circle that a person with healthy boundaries would not allow in.

This is a specific exercise that I do with people in a session. I have had some people have extreme difficulty completing this exercise. The have almost no sense of self, or who they are. I have had others have no difficulty naming their values, beliefs, what they love and what they hate and what they want in that circle.

 In the book, Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend, they explain in detail how having healthy boundaries are not only biblical,  but necessary. Without appropriate boundaries we can become very angry or bitter. Some of us may have great professional boundaries while our personal boundaries are a wreck, or vice versa. We may be saying "yes" to things we need to say "no" too. We may be avoiding things we need to say "yes" too. In this book, the authors specifically address why we get angry or feel frustrated when we have misplaced boundaries. I highly recommend reading this book, going through the study, or doing the workbook on your own or with a friend or counselor.

I wanted to share with you a great example of learning about boundaries.  In Margaret Feinberg's new book, Wonderstruck.  Margaret spends a chapter on a time in her life when she was essentially, depressed, emotionally drained, exhausted. She had a difficult time getting out of bed. Really had no desire for the things that she had previously. Margaret wisely sought out a christian counselor in her area. Margaret was amazed to find out that she needed help with boundaries. She thought she had a great boundaries, but what she needed was to balance out her life. Over time, and going through Cloud and Townsend's book and videos, she learned that she was saying "yes" to way too many things without considering how this was affecting her personal life.

And if you think you have Boundaries, well, Margaret had read it TWICE. Her counselor called her on her lack of application to anything in the book. And I think that's what happens to a lot of people. Just because you read something once, or even twice, does not mean you have it mastered. You have merely scratched the surface.

This is what Margaret learned about Boundaries, or lack thereof, excerpt from her book, Wonderstruck; chapter 4: A Sanctuary in Time:

"The pace of life became a place of torment. My life was a smoking treadmill I'd been running on at level ten speed at an incline of ten since childhood...freedom wasn't found in tossing the treadmill, but in discovering a maintainable pace".

Through several counseling sessions and a lot of hard work and homework, Margaret began to take responsibility for her life:

"The pace of my life was my making, and only I could undo it. The grassy meadows and still waters described in the Twenty-third Psalm awaited, but I had to choose to answer the invitation of the Good Shepherd".

Margaret goes on to share how she and her husband "committed to realigning their lives". They changed their work schedule, meal times, added exercise and they found themselves "more rested and fully present". Change doesn't happen over night and Margaret talks about swinging too far into extremes shortly after her new lifestyle change. That is very normal. When learning something new and life changing you can expect mistakes and extremes until you get the flow down. I think this can be applied to many areas of our lives.

 When I came across this chapter in the book I literally cheered. I applaud Margaret's transparency, I mean, it takes a lot to admit that you needed counseling. Hopefully, it will help expel the myth that counseling if only for people who are really "messed up", or just for people who are going through a crisis. Finding a good counselor who can look into your life with neutrality is key. Why not be proactive and go ahead and dig into those issues that you see appearing and reappearing in your life over and over and work on that so that you can be the best that you can be.

 You can rest all you want, have snippets of down time, do things for yourself, but without proper boundaries you will always be emptying your emotional bank before it can get filled. As difficult as it is to learn and implement boundaries, you have to figure out your world, your circle, and what fits in it and what doesn't in order to be the most whole, complete person you can be. THAT is why it is so important in the total art of self-care.

I hope today you can start working on your boundaries...I don't know ANYONE who couldn't benefit from further exploration in this area. And that includes ME!!!!

I am meditating on this passage of scripture this week:

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even more fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Psalm 19:7-11

The Lord gave laws as boundaries. Boundaries are important to God. He has put them there for our own good. To keep us whole. To keep us healthy. But we have to choose to follow him and his laws. I don't know about you but I want the above!! Doesn't mean everything goes your way, but you take responsibility for what is yours and leave the rest to God. You can trust him. He created boundaries for our good.

Have a blessed week!!!

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