The Balancing Act with Lysa Terkeurst

How to Reshape Your Relationships with Boundaries and Trust

When it comes to cultivating healthy relationships, understanding our own behaviors is as essential as comprehending those of others. Lysa Terkeurst, during her insightful interview with Family Life Radio, provides a deep dive into a common behavior many of us grapple with – people-pleasing – and emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries.

People-pleasing can often seem harmless, even beneficial in maintaining harmony in relationships. But Lysa candidly shares there’s more to it than meets the eye. “I do struggle with people pleasing,” she confesses. This constant struggle to keep others happy often comes at a personal cost, potentially eroding our own sense of self-worth and authenticity. More importantly, it instills a fear of setting boundaries, as we become overly concerned with the possibility of disappointing others or causing a relationship to end.

The root of people-pleasing runs deeper than merely trying to keep others happy.

There’s an underlying fear involved, a fear of losing something we perceive as valuable – acceptance, support or companionship.

The Fear Factor

“I was people pleasing to keep this other person happy,” Lysa admits, “so that they wouldn’t take from me something I feared they would stop giving me. And I wouldn’t be okay in this world if I drew this boundary.”

As humans, we naturally seek connection and validation from others. When this desire morphs into an unhealthy demand, dictated by our fear of loss, we find ourselves in a precarious situation.

Lysa brings forward a thought-provoking perspective, saying, “We will always desperately want from another person what we fear God will not provide for us.” It rings true that we often find ourselves seeking solace in others before turning to God, perhaps due to our own doubts or insecurities.

Jesus said, “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ … your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:31-33 NLT).

Lysa shares, “Here’s the thing with people pleasing. It makes boundaries feel impossible because you’re always concerned about disappointing the other person or having the other person think poorly of you, or possibly the other person walking away from you and the relationship ending. But if we are in a relationship with someone who, because we draw a healthy boundary, they become epically disappointed in us and potentially walk away, that’s probably a person who’s going to eventually be disappointed and walk away, whether we draw this boundary or not.”

A critical turning point in navigating people-pleasing tendencies is setting healthy boundaries. Lysa stresses the significance of this act, “Boundaries will cost us something because you’re changing the nature of the contract.” Setting boundaries may come with its fair share of fear and anxiety, but when the pain of not drawing boundaries surpasses the apprehension of setting them, we reach a pivotal moment of change. “And when us not drawing boundaries finally hurts enough, then we will finally make peace with the reality of having a boundary,” she explains.

In this light, setting boundaries becomes less about causing others disappointment and more about preserving our own emotional health and wellbeing.

It’s a courageous act of affirming our own needs and respecting our personal limits. Paul asks in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body” (NLT).

Lysa’s insights invite us to examine our own tendencies to people-please and to consider the profound importance of setting healthy boundaries. The path may seem challenging, but in taking these steps, we are not only nurturing our relationships with others but, more importantly, honoring our commitment to God and to ourselves. Let’s remember that it is in God that we should place our trust, not in the validation of others. Psalm 118:8 says, “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people” (NLT).

Making the Shift

Shifting your focus from others’ approval to nurturing your own wellbeing is about finding the balance between meeting others’ needs and respecting your own limits. It’s about understanding that it’s okay to say ‘no’ when necessary and that your worth isn’t measured by how much we can please others, but by your intrinsic value as children of God.

Through this lens, setting boundaries becomes an act of self-love and self-respect, a way to protect our hearts and minds.  Paul tells us in Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (NLT).

When you give yourself the grace to set boundaries, you also give yourself permission to grow. In acknowledging struggles with people-pleasing and fear of setting boundaries, you open up to the potential of meaningful, balanced relationships in respect both respect for yourself and others.

Ultimately, our primary relationship is with God, and through Him we find the strength and courage to navigate the complexities of our interactions with others.

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