Practical Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries

Lysa Terkeurst on Boundary Setting

Renowned author and speaker Lysa Terkeurst delved into the complex world of setting boundaries in relationships in a conversation with Family Life Radio. As she eloquently explained, “A sign of unhealthy boundaries is if you’re trying to use it to manipulate, punish or control another person.” Unhealthy boundaries, much like external chest compressions in a medical emergency, can only sustain a relationship for a limited time.

From her book “Good Boundaries and Goodbyes,” Lysa proposes practical strategies for creating and communicating boundaries without resorting to harmful tactics. It’s about preparation. She recommends, “So ahead of time, go ahead and write out the conversation that you want to have or the script that you want to use when communicating a healthy boundary.”

One such script, particularly useful when your schedule is already full, addresses how to gracefully decline opportunities. Lysa shares, “Thank you so much for thinking of me with this opportunity. While my heart says ‘yes, yes,’ the reality of my time capacity makes this a ‘no.’” This communicates appreciation while clearly stating your current limitations.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (ESV). Your time and capacities are not limitless, and there’s a time to say “yes,” and a time to decline.

Setting boundaries isn’t merely about managing time; it’s also about protecting yourself from unhealthy relationships.

Lysa has crafted a list of red flags to pay attention to that she shares in her book. “Because for me,” she says, “a red flag has to literally be burning down to the ground before I tilt my head and go ‘no’”.

The first two identifying markers and questions to ask yourself Lysa shared:

  1. “Where am I diminishing the best of who I am to cover up for the worst of who someone else is?”
  2. “When I have conversations with wise people in my life, do I intentionally omit some details about this relationship?”

Boundary setting requires self-awareness and introspective questions. Paul said, “Love … is not self-seeking” 1 Corinthians 13:5 (ESV). Diminishing yourself for another’s shortcomings is not love, but self-deprecation.

It’s also important to stay true to yourself and maintain transparency in conversations about your relationships. Omitting details could indicate an internal struggle with the relationship’s health.

Lysa discusses self-deception: “Where am I potentially lying to myself?” Self-deception can take the form of excessive optimism, ignoring present issues and overestimating a person’s potential. 1 John 1:8 (ESV) warns, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

Setting boundaries is not about controlling others but about protecting yourself, managing your time effectively and maintaining the health of your relationships. It’s about having those hard conversations, seeking wisdom and being honest with yourself.

If you choose not to be anxious about anything, you can live a supernatural life.

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