The benefits of healthy boundaries are wonderful: the freedom to create, the wisdom to understand how life works, and the ability to “do unto others what we would have them do unto us”. So what prevents us from living in the gifts that boundary-setting can bring?

We have to give up these eight common myths to experience the benefits of boundaries. The myths are hard to release because we have experienced them as a mythological moral code. However, boundaries express love of self, respect for others, and honor the God who loved us first.

Boundary Myths:

  1. I’m being selfish to say, “no”.
  2. I will be belittled, mocked, or rejected if I don’t “go along” or disagree.
  3. The recipient of my boundaries will resent me, never forget, and the future will be full of tension.
  4. I will be perceived as difficult and demanding.
  5. I will be put in a position of fighting, fleeing, or freezing when my boundaries are not honored.
  6. I will feel overwhelming toxic shame about revealing my needs.
  7. The boundary will be permanent.
  8. I will not be free to change them as I process, grow, or decide differently.

Having personal boundaries expresses a mature sense of responsibility and wisdom. In the world of land ownership, boundaries communicate where the ownership of land begins and ends. In the world of identity, boundaries communicate where a person starts and where they end.

A person’s “land” is the space they live in, which they are responsible to take care of—internally and externally. A person’s land is the emotional, spiritual, physical, and moral sphere that is one’s own to attend to. Boundaries are expressed through the use of one’s voice. When we use our voices to express our feelings, needs, desires, and values, and take action that is congruent with our voices, we lay claim to our “land.”

Having boundaries is no one else’s responsibility. It is my job to say, “no” and “yes”. It is my responsibility to tell the truth, to live by a value system, to attend to my body with responsibility and dignity. It is my responsibility to face myself, others, and God emotionally and truthfully.

AuthorChip Dodd

I heard a wise person say, “Your 'yes' means very little until you can also say 'no'.” People who can say “no” have the courage to tell the truth about themselves, making their “yes” trustworthy.

“No” is a small, easily spoken word. Yet summoning the emotional energy required to say the word is often difficult. What makes it so anguishing?

Tragically, we have been trained to withhold “no,” because our sense of belonging has so often required that we not tell the truth. Here are some experiences that convince us that “no” is dangerous, along with truths that can encourage us to practice saying “no.” 

  1. Experience: “No” means forever.
    Truth: Most of the time “no” means not right now.
  2. Experience: Saying “no” makes people have feelings we equate with a relationship ending. If someone feels hurt or sad, then we are mean or cruel.
    Truth: We really don’t “make” people feel. They do that on their own, whether we are there or not.
  3. Experience: If we don’t say “no,” we will be favored or loved forever, making our selves eternally in the good graces of power.
    Truth: If we don’t say “no,” we are being used by the very powers that will never offer us freedom or love.
  4. Experience: If I say “no,” I will be banished to the-forever-alone-place.
    Truth: There are a bunch of people waiting for you to say “no” who will appreciate your honesty and trustworthiness.
  5. Experience: What we learn from experience in childhood, we often project on to the rest of life.
    Truth: There are many people in the “bigger” truthful life who wish for us to join them with our own unique identity. To join them, however, you and I will have to hear and say “no;” we will have to practice truthfulness, not prophecy, with them.

While “no” is a little word, it is very important for us to practice saying. It can set us free to live with others in love. Love can be trusted, but not without being able to say “no.”

AuthorChip Dodd