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Setting Boundaries: A Communication Skill?

Uncategorized Aug 06, 2020

Boundaries.  The message comes to us in many different forms:  Healthy people set boundaries.  Sometimes it’s friends or a family member that says to us, “You just have to set boundaries.”  

While it is absolutely true that we need boundaries in order to keep others from walking all over us, it is also true that other people telling us that “simply setting boundaries” would solve the problem of spiritual abuse, just don’t get it.

First of all we have to remember that the spiritual abuse is not our fault.  It was suddenly and without warning heaped upon us, without our doing anything.  It’s the abuser that has the issues.  How could we have known that we needed a boundary, when no one else had ever treated us like that before?  If we don’t know we need a boundary, then how can we set it?

To be told we need to set boundaries seems to us like a daft simplification of the problem.  We don’t appreciate it. 

Ironically, however, if we don’t set boundaries at THAT point, they will likely continue to tell us that we need boundaries.

So, how do we set the boundary to keep people from simplifying the situation, when we know that they don’t have a clue? 

We use communication skills.  That’s what we do. 

Something like, “You know, when you tell me that I need to set boundaries as though that would make the abuse go away, it makes my dander rise, because I know that you’ve never experienced what it’s like. Telling me to set boundaries after the fact, is like telling the rancher to lock the barn door after the horses have escaped.”

Or maybe this:  “When you tell me that if I had only set boundaries, it makes me feel like you think I’m guilty – like if I had set boundaries, the abuse wouldn’t have happened.  What I want you to know is that you can’t fix it.  Telling me to set boundaries after the fact is not helpful.  I would appreciate it if you would not say that to me anymore.”

The formula for that communication skill goes like this: 

When you said ______________, I felt ______________ because _____________.

That is setting a boundary.  It lets the other person know they are treading in water that they have not been invited into.

Leave me a comment.

And remember, you’re awesome!  God holds you in the palm of His hand.



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