Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Is It OK to Set Boundaries?

Damond Nollan

Listen to the audio version of "Is It Ok to Set Boundaries?"
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“You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce.” ~ Tony Gaskins

"I love you!" I said convincingly. The room grew quiet and uncomfortably still. It was as if time itself stopped to hear the response. From the depths of my belly, I found the strength to once again reiterate the very message that I needed to say, "I LOVE YOU!" This time, it escaped my mouth even louder and with more urgency, but I don't think the words were enough to mask the obvious uncertainty that I felt inside.

My head dropped slowly and my eyes fell to the floor because I knew the truth that had been hiding quietly in the dark corners of my mind. I've said these words so many times, but the truth of the matter is that I've been lying. 

Like a child standing before his disappointed parents, I forced myself to find the courage to raise my head and face the firing squad that awaited me. My eyes crawled laboriously from the floor to the pair of eyes staring at me in the mirror. As I looked at myself, I knew that I had let myself down for too long and I was now ashamed by what I permitted into my life. 

"You say that you love me, but do you really?" I questioned myself as I have thousands of times before, but I already knew the answer. 

For years, I told myself that I was being nice and accommodating, but for years I simply let people get away with things that I shouldn't have allowed. I told myself that things would get better and that the individuals would change, but that day never seemed to come. Who was I fooling?

As I look back over the course of my life, I can honestly say that I have done myself a disservice by not loving me enough to fully respect the man in the mirror. Where I should have protected him, I offered him up like a sacrifice for the temporary illusion of safety and acceptance. Where I should have created boundaries or walked away from damaging situations, I allowed him to be abused and trampled upon. I am 100% responsible for the lies I've told him and the promises I never kept. Who could ever learn to respect that man when I, it's guardian, failed to respect him first. 

“At any given moment, you have the power to say this is not how the story is going to end.” ~ Unknown

It is in this moment that I say, "Enough!" I am tired of making excuses for other people's behavior and adjusting myself to accommodate that which I know is wrong. Truthfully, I've struggled with the idea of appearing selfish should I ever choose me first. As a result, I feel that I have loved and cared for others, but often at the expense of losing me, abandoning my values, and foregoing my beliefs. 

As I write this, I was led to compare my message against the instructions found in Philippians 2:3-5 (KJV) where it reads:

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus."

This passage is an important reminder that we should value others and seek their interests over our own. I can understand this lesson and see how it is applied throughout our lives, our conversations, and our relationships. However, what I am speaking about is the protection from abuse, manipulation, liars, cheaters, thieves, people who disrespect you, time wasters, and energy drainers. It is more about setting healthy boundaries around you than it is removing yourself as a blessing to others.  

It is in understanding that you can say "no" and still be considered kind and loving. Accepting poor and abusive behavior does not make you strong. It is in taking a stand against our fears of losing, mediocrity, being rejected, abandoned, laughed at, or ostracized that we fight for what is right. 

Remember these words from 2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV):

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

We are not victims, but overcomers. We have the power to change our circumstances at any time by simply making better decisions about who and what we allow into our lives. It is through the creation of healthy boundaries that we are once again safe to love and serve one another without fear and trepidation.

You are a champion. Make today a very great day!

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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