"SETTING PERSONAL BOUNDARIES"
By Reydon Stanford
"Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who
trespass against us." This is one of the many prominent sentences found within the "Lord's Prayer," in
the New Testament. But what does it mean actually? Although many would argue that this is talking about sin, I personally
believe it is talking about just what it says...trespassing, which means to cross personal boundaries.
Why would the issue of ‘crossing personal boundaries,' be so important as to merit daily attention
in prayer? Because the ability to abuse others or be abused ourselves is so great when there are no boundaries or when established
boundaries are crossed. Sadly, it happens more than we might think.
are certain boundaries that are obvious to most of us and many that are recognized by the laws of the land. For instance,
most people are firmly aware that rape, incest, molestation, robbery, stealing, breaking and entering, and murder are all
boundaries that should never be crossed. When those boundaries are crossed and the criminals are caught, there is usually
a very stiff penalty to pay, and for good reason.
about boundaries that don't seem as obvious? Lust for example. Jesus stated that: "If you look upon a woman to lust
after her, you've committed adultery in your heart." Now some might argue that since lusting is a ‘secret
mental episode' that takes place in the mind, it is not really a trespass. However, if the person being lusted after
has no knowledge of...or has given no permission for such attention...it is technically a trespass, which is why Jesus
makes the comment, in my opinion. While it might seem like ‘harmless fun,' it is still intrusive and abusive behavior,
which is not healthy and that is the greater point. The same elements apply in other instances as well, such as gossip, judging
Other areas often overlooked within the
context of ‘boundaries' are ‘Emotional or Psychological Trespassing.' These types of trespasses often happens
within family relationships, (although it is not confined to such). Let's say, (for example), that a man has four children
and he continually belittles, criticizes and verbally abuses them with harsh words. While he may consider this type of behavior
as ‘teaching, training or corrective,' it can very easily cross the boundary of what is healthy or even humane. For
example: If this man were to accuse his son of being ‘stupid,' for having failed a test at school, he has crossed an
emotional boundary into the child's self-esteem. We really should be so careful that our words do not cross healthy boundaries.
As a pastoral counselor, I often see ‘trespassing' when it
comes to people with adult children as well. It seems fairly commonplace for parents to continue to intrude into the ‘personal'
lives of their adult children by asking questions or making suggestions in areas where they have not been asked. I often tell
them, "You will always be their Mom (or Dad), but your parenting days are over!" While it is true that
the Bible says: "Children obey your parents," the focus should be on the word ‘children.' Trespassing
upon adult children is one of the most common areas of conflict in these relationships. I've seen many parents broken-hearted
and their relationships struggling, because they do not honor the boundaries of their adult children. It is a different story
if someone is ‘asked' for their advice or opinion.
time, many years ago, I was speaking to a group of teenagers at a youth prison facility in New Mexico. While most of the young
men were very receptive, I noticed one in the group who kept staring at me with a obvious smirk upon his face. Afterwards,
he approached me and asked: "How much money do you make?" I instantly realized that he was not asking the question
because he had a desire to ‘follow in my career footsteps,' but that he was critical of my job and thought any money
paid to me would be too much. In short, he had crossed a personal boundary. I simply ignored the question and he waltzed off.
If we want to develop a healthy lifestyle, we must learn and embrace
what are healthy boundaries for ourselves and others. What we see, hear and allow ourselves to participate in must all have
boundaries if we are to maintain a healthy mentality and life. I refuse to watch television programming that is upsetting
to me, because it is obviously crossing my emotional boundaries or it wouldn't be upsetting.
Probably, the hardest person to convince of the need for real and healthy boundaries is ourselves.
Over-eating, drug or alcohol abuse, poor sleeping habits and a zillion other issues can be directly linked to a lack of personal
I remember when I first started counseling,
I would drop everything to speak with someone who was hurting. Day and night my phone or doorbell would ring with people needing
to chat about some problem in their life. It didn't take long before my family was suffering, my health was suffering and
I was completely burned out. It took some wise counsel, office hours and days off to reset my clock. In short...I had to establish
boundaries for myself and ask people to respect those boundaries. It didn't go so well at first, but soon it was much more
beneficial for all concerned. In short, if we have no boundaries, we can't blame others when they wander onto our territory.
Setting boundaries is the first step to getting and feeling better.
Write them down, think them through and then enforce them. Setting your boundaries is the easy part...policing ourselves is
the hard part.
Copyright by Reydon Stanford 2010
"THE RUNAWAY MIND"
By Reydon Stanford
Joe Friday from the TV show Dragnet used to say, "Just the facts, Ma'am." If we as humans could limit our
thinking to ‘just the facts,' we might find our mental and emotional health a lot better, but our brain doesn't seem
to like being limited by ‘just the facts,' especially if we're uncertain of what the facts are. When the facts are unavailable...our
minds will venture into scary territory.
The reason for this delimma is that one of the
main tasks of the human brain is to solve problems, even if it has to ‘stretch the facts' or ignore them entirely
to come to an answer it likes. When the brain is presented with a problem, it goes to work trying to solve the issue so that
we can move forward with satisfaction and a peace of mind...even if it's a false peace of mind. When our brain cannot adequately
solve a problem, it begins to stress. This is one reason that many people struggle with mathematics. Math requires our brain
to look at a problem and through a series of steps, solve that problem. It can be mentally exhausting, (especially if we have
difficulty solving the problem), which is why some people end up hating math and why some people shy away from all problem-solving
as much as possible.
Since the brain works hard to solve
problems, it is common for humans to enter into ‘Oblique Thinking,' concerning various issues when an ‘easy' answer
is not available. Oblique Thinking is a series of thought-patterns that work to achieve satisfying answers to a problem,
but end up falling short of a factual answer. In fact, oblique thinking can lead us into 'distorted thinking,' which makes
the matter worse. When we enter into Oblique Thinking, it can raise even more questions and problems, which in turn can leave
us feeling distraught, weak, confused and fearful or superstitious...all very painful thoughts that exhibit themselves through
painful emotions such as depression or anxiety.
When an answer,
(based upon facts), becomes hard to find, our minds will often venture into mythical thoughts that have little bearing upon
the truth, or the problem we're attempting to solve. For example: Let's say we hear a noise outside of our house during the
night. Is it an animal? Is it prowler? Is it a Peeping Tom? (Or Tomasina, so as not to sound prejudiced). Is it a
stalker? A Serial Killer? Does this killer have a knife or a gun? Maybe it's a chain-saw??? Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh
This type of thinking, which allows our minds to run
away with us is ‘oblique thinking.' Let's say you finally get up the courage to crawl across the floor, turn on the
porch-light and peek through the window into the night beyond. The wind has blown your patio umbrella over and it is now banging
against the side of the house. No animal, no prowler, no Peeping Tom, no stalker, no Serial Killer and no weapons. Just a
umbrella blowing in the wind. Suddenly the mind begins to reclaim calm, the adrenaline gland returns to normal and we often
feel foolish for having allowed our mind to run away with us.
emotion that often falls victim to oblique thinking is jealousy. Jealousy is a human emotion that follows a certain pattern
of thought where we become suspicious, fearful, threatened and angry. You call your spouse on their cell phone and they don't
answer. Since you do not have the facts, (they are in the restroom), you begin to wonder why they are not answering. You try
again...no answer. Oblique thinking kicks in. Perhaps they are ignoring you? Perhaps they are engaged in a flirting conversation
with that no-good-for-nothing co-worker of theirs??? As these thoughts go unchecked, the heart begins to race, the face fills
with blood, and these are followed by feelings of fearfulness and anger. When they DO answer your call...you are now furious.
"Why didn't you answer my call?" you shout. "I was in the restroom honey, sorry." they explain. "The
restroom? Yea, right! I've been pacing the floor for five minutes, worried sick and all you can tell me is that you were poo
pooing? Where was ol' Lover boy while you were on the John? Huh?"
See what I mean? Oblique thinking can spell all kinds of trouble. Now, because of your own run-away mind, your
spouse thinks you are mental and you feel very suspicious of them for no reason. Again, the problem is oblique thinking. To
someone who is allowing their mind to run away with them with non-factual thoughts, it begins to fill in the blanks with suspicion
or conspiracy. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck...it's probably an assassin! At least to
the oblique thinker. Someone once asked me who I thought really murdered J.F.K.. My answer was this: "I don't know because
I don't have all the facts. But one thing I do know for a FACT is...I didn't do it. I was only two years old." They looked
at me like I was the nutty one.
The answer for reeling in
our thoughts is to base them upon as many facts as we can. If we don't have all the facts, then it would be healthier to try
and find them, than to simply allow our mind to fill in the blanks on it's own. Detective Joe Friday might have seemed boring
to most...but he wasn't motivated by oblique thinking either.
Copyright by Reydon Stanford