Shame Repellant: How to Set Boundaries

I was spending a quiet Sunday evening in my sewing room when the message alert came.

As I read it, I became nauseated. A distant relative, one I haven’t seen in almost a decade, was clearly angry about something I’d posted earlier in the day (this article for Daughters of Unloving Mothers).

My relative’s intent wasn’t restoration, but to shame me. She questioned my loyalty and love for my mother. She scoffed at my Christianity. She derided my deceased father for his alcoholism. It was pure contempt.Shame, How to Set Boundaries, Shame-free life

I was shocked by her hostility, as we’d never had anything but positive encounters before, and only a handful of times.

Since she wasn’t asking me to do anything, I could have chosen to ignore the message. I could have blocked her from contacting me. Or, I could have written an apology to try to mollify her anger.

But I hadn’t done anything wrong. The shame she was trying to put on me was definitely misplaced. So instead, I chose to set a boundary.

If you deal with others putting unmerited shame on you as well, there are ways to keep it from sinking in and doing further damage to your already wounded heart. Setting a boundary is like shame repellant.

Here are three things to remember when setting a boundary:

Remind yourself of the truth

I informed my relative of a hard truth I’d realized a few years before. The public perception of relationships isn’t always the way they actually are. In my case, I’d learned to pretend things were good in order to avoid more trouble. But that path had taken me to a dark place.

Whether the other person is able to accept the truth or not, writing it out or talking it over with someone you trust reinforces it in your mind and heart. Every situation is different, and it may not be productive to share that truth with the one who needs a boundary. Sometimes they see their mistake, and sometimes it only escalates the problem, so you’ll have to decide what’s best in each case.

Be Kind, But Firm

It’s hard to insist that you’re treated respectfully, especially if you’ve been treated disrespectfully all your life and you’re just learning how to live without the shame and feelings of worthlessness. It may take more than one draft for you to write out your needs before you share them.

In my case, I asked for respectful correspondence and that my motives not be judged before she knew all the facts. I made sure to focus on her choices, not who she is as a person. We must resist the temptation to fling shame back. Boundary setting is like spraying bug spray on ourselves; I’m not advocating an assault on the other person with a big can of bug killer.

Make Sure You’re Ready to Enforce It

If you make a firm but kind request, the other person has a choice about whether to honor it or not. If they don’t, and you keep allowing the disrespect (or whatever negative behavior meant to shame you), it will be all the harder for you to convince them you mean it the next time.

Having a plan about how to enforce the boundary (whether it be lessening or cutting contact altogether) helps you to stay clear of the shame. Remember that boundaries actually help preserve the relationship, or what’s left of it. You’re doing the other person a kindness by offering an opportunity for them to see that their behavior is hurtful.

I know from personal experience that if the other person choses not to honor your request, it can be painful to accept their choice. But we can only control our own choices, and the least painful choice in the long run is to do what you said you’d do.

Shame, How to Set Boundaries, Shame-free lifeLiving a Shame-Free Life

Creating boundaries is a good way to begin building up a support system of people who treat you with respect and kindness.

I’ve heard it said that you can’t heal a wound if someone keeps ripping off the scab. I have found it to be true in my own life. Getting yourself to a safe place where you can heal sometimes takes acts of courage you never thought you’d muster.

Without the negative voices pulling you down, you’ll be able to hear the healing voices who want to lift you up.

It’s hard emotional work sometimes. But in the end, the person you become without the weight of shame is free to fulfill the purpose God created you for.

The process of forgiveness begins.

Anxiety decreases.

Healthy relationships thrive.

You learn to love freely, because you embrace the love the Creator of the Universe has given you.

If you’re struggling with throwing off the shame and learning to set boundaries in the process, please know that there’s a peaceful life waiting for you on the other side.

Want to read more on the topic? Michele Cushatt wrote a great blog about her experience as well.

 

One Important Book Every Woman Should Read

I thought I was the only one. Or at least, a rarity.

Uninvited. On the outside looking in.

It turns out, the feeling is almost universal, at least, according to Lysa TerKeurt’s book, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and LonelyUninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely, Lysa TerKeurst

And that means that maybe you, too, need some guidance to deal with rejection. Read more

My Bohemian Garden: One Truth About God’s Love

I wrote a couple weeks ago about my unintentional garden. It’s a 4′ X 4′ tangle of weeds, tomato plants, and one prolific bell pepper plant.

Seriously, the bell pepper plant has four stalks with a dozen blooms each. The first stalk already has a dozen baby peppers forming. If it keeps it up, I won’t have to buy frozen bell peppers for a year.

And that’s not even mentioning the bountiful tomato plants!Garden, One Truth, God’s Love, Bohemian, Tomato, pruning
Read more

Reluctant Gardener: When God Grants an Unexpected Harvest

I let the garden go fallow this year so I could focus on writing goals. Tall weeds grew where I’d toiled over tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers last year. I’d get out there eventually to pull them, I told myself.

When God Grants an Unexpected Harvest, Garden, droughtBut my daughter came in from the backyard one morning with an announcement. “We have nine baby tomato plants!”

Sure enough, there were twice as many plants as I’d planted last year. Plus, a volunteer bell pepper plant.

Read more

Fruit of the Spirit vs. Idolatry: Self-control vs. Marching to Your Own Beat

I used to have such a wrong idea about the Fruit of the Spirit. I’d read the verses in Galatians like a laundry list of so many things I couldn’t do enough, be enough. I would either flip to another book of the Bible, or vow to work on being more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, etc. But the next day, I wouldn’t even be able to list all nine.

This post is the ninth in a series on walking with God instead of pursuing idolatry. You’ll find the previous one here.

Fruit of the Spirit, self-control, Galatians, idolatry, marching to your own beat

Learning to walk by the Spirit isn’t without its stumbles.

When I started this series, I commented to a friend, “I can already tell I’m going to be seriously tested.” Little did I know, God planned to show me so much more than I wanted to know about my own tendency (or lack thereof) to keep in step. Read more

Fruit of the Spirit vs. Idolatry: Gentleness vs. Weakness

I used to have such a wrong idea about the Fruit of the Spirit. I’d read the verses in Galatians like a laundry list of so many things I couldn’t do enough, be enough. I would either flip to another book of the Bible, or vow to work on being more loving, joyful, peaceful, kind, etc. But the next day, I wouldn’t even be able to list all nine.

This post is the eighth in a series on walking with God instead of pursuing idolatry. You’ll find the previous one here.

Fruit of the Spirit, gentleness, weakness, Galatians, idolatryOut running errands the other day in the sweltering heat, I noticed one thing about the people in my normally friendly, helpful town: they were grumpy.
Read more

Bill Cosby Wants to Teach Youth to Avoid Sexual Assault? Physician, heal thyself!

I didn’t want to believe it. When the first few women spoke out about being drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby, I admit, I’m guilty of being dubious.

No one wants to get out the pitchforks for America’s dad. He’s the lovable, 79-year-old man we invited into our living rooms every week. Not even a jury of his peers will convict him in court, apparently.Bill Cosby, sexual assault, youth, Time Magazine

I get it. He’s Dr. Huxtable, for crying out loud! And he brought us Jello Pudding Pops. Who doesn’t love some creamy, frozen chocolate bliss on a stick?
Read more

A Father for the Fatherless: Learning to Trust God

This weekend we celebrate our fathers, father figures, and fathers of our children. Dads across the country will open ties, BBQ gear, and their cold beverage of choice, along with handcrafted cards out of construction paper, glue, and markers.

Father's day, Father, Dad, Trust, Heavenly Father, Father of the FatherlessBut if you’re like me, you’re also half-bracing yourself against the blast of Happy Father’s Day wishes this year. For whatever reason, thoughts of your father are less than happy. Whether he’s passed away or your relationship with him is painful, the day comes as a barrage of reminders about something you lack.

Many of us who’ve had a wrong understanding about the character of God—about who He is as our heavenly Father—derived those beliefs, whether consciously or unconsciously, from our relationships with our dads.
Read more

1 2 3 4 5 9