Four Levels of Boundaries
I’m continuing to talk about HOW to forgive… practical advice to get you free of your past and back to building your future. So far I’ve talked about making a heroic choice to forgive and the importance of setting boundaries. Check out those posts.
These posts are adapted from my book STUCK…how to overcome your anger and take back your life.
Today I want to give you a few examples of what boundaries in relationships look like.
Why Boundaries Help You Forgive
Boundaries give you the separation you need to be clearheaded enough to forgive. If you are continually being offended you often get pulled down to the level of your offender. Boundaries identify what is an offense and warns of consequences to people who enter your personal space without your permission. Effective boundaries keep you sane by keeping intruders out of your life.
Four Levels of Boundaries
Here are four levels of boundaries. Pick the one that is appropriate for your offender:
- Velvet rope – This is what you use with a reasonable person. All you have to do is tell them your concern and they get it. They respect your space and stop offending.
- Picket fence – This is a little more defined than the rope. There are no gaps in the fence. It’s very clear who you are and who they are.
- Eight foot cement wall – This is what happens when people don’t get it. You have the conversation and they keep offending so you make it almost impossible to offend you again without a lot of work on their part. When you find them on your side of the wall there is no excuse and they understand that they deserve any consequences promised.
- Razor Wire and Guard Towers – You do what you have to do to be safe. You no longer appeal to your offenders good will or assume they are reasonable. Their past behavior has proven that they are untrustworthy and possibly evil and dangerous. Subtlety is out. Clarity is in. Author Henry Cloud says that some people require “lawyers, guns and money”, that’s the only way to get their attention and shut down their negative behavior. Guns, by the way, refer to calling the police when necessary.
This might seem harsh. It might not seem very “Christian”. But to the contrary…Razor Wire and Guard Towers give you the distance you need to be gracious. When you are continually being offended by someone it’s hard to have a good attitude toward them and not want to lash out. These people bring out the worst in us and it’s embarrassing. The best thing you can do for yourself and for them is get the distance you need so you can act rationally and they learn to respect your space.
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Question: How might these various levels of boundaries help a current relationship of yours? Leave your comment below.
- Defining Forgiveness: Five Things Forgiveness is Not (part three) (readingremy.com)
- Moving On From the Hurt (readingremy.com)