I have been working with people for the the past 15 years and boundaries are one of our biggest challenges. Boundries between us and our co-workers, between us and our significant other, between us and our kids, between us and our family, between us and…. ourselves! I recently finished reading an awesome book on the topic: Boundaries by John Townsend and Henry Cloud. They offer the following laws which I think help us in drawing the line in the sand.
Ten Laws of Boundaries:
According to the authors, John Townsend and Henry Cloud, there are ten laws of boundaries. They are as follows:
The Law Of Sowing and Reaping – Actions have consequences. If someone in your life is sowing anger, selfishness, and abuse at you, are you setting boundaries against it? Or are they getting away with not reaping (or paying the consequences for) what he/she sowed?
The Law of Responsibility – We are responsible TO each other, not FOR each other. This law means that each person refuses to rescue or enable another’s immature behavior.
The Law of Power – We have power over some things, we don’t have power over others (including changing people). It is human nature to try to change and fix others so that we can be more comfortable. We can’t change or fix anyone – but we do have the power to change our own life.
The Law of Respect – If we wish for others to respect our boundaries, we need to respect theirs. If someone in your life is a rager, you should not dictate to him/her all the reasons that they can’t be angry. A person should have the freedom to to protest the things they don’t like. But at the same time, we can honor our own boundary by telling them, “Your raging at me is not acceptable to me. If you continue to rage, I will have to remove myself from you.”
The Law of Motivation – We must be free to say “no” before we can wholeheartedly say “yes”.One can not actually love another if he feels he doesn’t have a choice not to. Pay attention to your motives.
The Law of Evaluation – We need to evaluate the pain our boundaries cause others. Do our boundaries cause pain that leads to injury? Or do they cause pain that leads to growth?
The Law of Proactivity – We take action to solve problems based on our values, wants, and needs. Proactive people keep their freedom and they disagree and confront issues but are able to do so without getting caught up in an emotional storm. This law has to do with taking action based on deliberate, thought-out values versus emotional reactions.
The Law of Envy – We will never get what we want if we focus our boundaries onto what others have. Envy is miserable because we’re dissatisfied with our state yet powerless to change it. The envious person doesn’t set limits because he is not looking at himself long enough to figure out what choices he has.
The Law of Activity – We need to take the initiative to solve our problems rather than being passive.In a dysfunctional relationship, sometimes one person is active and the other is passive. When this occurs, the active person will dominate the passive one. The passive person may be too intimidated by the active one to say no. This law has to do with taking initiative rather than being passive and waiting for someone else to make the first move.
The Law of Exposure – We need to communicate our boundaries. A boundary that is not communicated is a boundary that is not working. We need to make clear what we do or do not want, and what we will or will not tolerate. We need to also make clear that every boundary violation has a consequence. A boundary without a consequence is nagging.
What lines is it time for you to draw?