someone stepped on your toes recently? Have you asked someone to back
off? Or is it easier just to bear the offense in silence?
When we begin to feel
claustrophic in a relationship, usually it’s caused by an encroachment
into our personal space, physically or figuratively. Sometimes we cause
that feeling in other people. Those of us with the “gotta fix it” gene
give help before we’re asked. We tend to jump over the boundary stone
and tromp all over another’s emotional property. Others pick up that
boundary and move it closer in to gain ownership over what doesn’t
belong to them. In the rush to control, like an overbearing boss, they
think for the person. Whether it’s meant for good or to belittle, it’s
sheer thievery from another’s heart, mind, and personhood.
Boundary movers display
heavy-handed behavior, telling, not asking, what should be done.
Intentional manipulators often use sweet talk, “Christianese,” and a
hard-to-decipher smile to get their target to understand the good
they intend. It’s quite confusing for the unsuspecting victim as they
watch their borders shrink and yet feel guilty that it bothers them.
Boundary movers may think the other person is too stupid to make the
right decision. It’s not simply one person though; it’s habitual
thinking about others. What words can be tracked in our minds that
would be considered inappropriate if they were said out loud? Big clue!
What to do if your
boundaries are being attacked.
Acknowledge your discomfort. By listening to the dissonance you feel,
often you’re recognizing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to protect you.
Physical boundaries are mentioned over fifty times in the Bible. It’s
important to establish them. They protect, provide, and offer privacy.
God knew that we needed boundaries, both physical and emotional.
Practice a phrase or two to help
hold those boundaries, and speak up. “You know, I appreciate that you
want to help me, but this is something I need to do myself.” For
someone who can’t understand a soft response, you might try, “No. That
won’t work for me.” One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that
I didn’t owe an explanation for everything. In the adult world, the
word no is enough. Someone who honors no
Someone who doesn’t, well, sometimes we have to be the mature one and
hold to our convictions anyway.
Walk away. Boundary thieves feed
off of unnecessary confrontation and force of will. To stay engaged
feeds their ego, purpose, and sense of satisfaction. Take the power
away by walking away and refusing to engage. I’ve recognized this after
the battle’s been waged and learned to literally say, “I’m done,” then
turn and walk away. The next time, I watch for the signals I missed
before, and disengage earlier. It’s a learning process. But courage to
act to protect your boundaries grows your confidence more each time,
especially if you catch the thief in the process.
What to do if you’re a
Give it back and apologize. Are you the one always overpowering someone
else’s opinions, beliefs, or needs? Are you the critique partner
criticizing, changing voice, or rewriting? There’s no better cure than
to stop—and then atone for it by asking forgiveness.
Respect other people’s ability
and right to choices and opinions. Give them the grace to grow, without
forcing change that’s hurtful. Forcing change creates resentment and
the desire to resist. It’s a lose-lose prospect. Eventually, you’ll
lose a friend.
Ask first without assuming you
know the answer. Ask first before charging to the rescue. Ask first
because otherwise you’re stealing rights, opinions, and opportunities
that don’t belong to you.
Mentally visualize releasing and
putting down whatever it is you feel so strongly attached to, even if
it’s an outcome you wish you could change. Say, “This isn’t my problem
to solve, and unless I’m invited, I’m stealing growth and confidence
from this person.” (A shortened version helps me: “Whose problem is it
really?”) If it’s not my problem, then it helps me to avoid becoming a
boundary thief. Who wants to wear the label THIEF?
Each time we guard our
boundaries, we help the other person to grow in character as we grow in
courage. Each time we interrupt the bad habit of stepping on someone
else’s intellectual or emotional property, we change for the better,
and we allow the other person the opportunity to learn and grow, too.
Recipe courtesy of
Creative Cooking for Colitis, a new Kindle release from Angela
We like this for simple,
colorful, and elegant dish for a great lunch or a dinner side.
Pretty enough for a dinner party
bag of egg noodles, cooked
Fresh basil leaves, about 8–10, diced and bruised to bring out the
1 Tbs. Italian seasoning
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 tsp. fresh chopped garlic
4 Roma tomatoes, diced
½ cup Kalamata or Greek olives
1 jar artichokes, sliced into thirds
Salt to taste
Fat-free feta cheese
Bring noodles to a boil and cook
while preparing the rest of the salad. Measure and mix all spices, oil,
and vinegar. Allow them to marinate while adding olives, chopped
garlic, sliced artichokes, and diced tomatoes. Mix gently. Drain egg
noodles and immediately toss with other ingredients. Top with feta
cheese and serve. Salt to taste.
If you don’t have balsamic vinegar and olive oil, substitute 3 to 4
tablespoons of a low-fat Italian or balsamic dressing.
Tip 2: If you
know you will be storing leftovers, sprinkle feta cheese onto
individual servings. Now you can store the salad in the refrigerator
without soggy cheese. Add before eating.
Tip 3: Don’t
try to use dried basil. It just isn’t the same, trust me.
Tip 4: I’ve
also found I love this salad without the pasta. Consider it optional