Lately I’ve been listening to the great book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend called “Boundries”. It has changed my world completely!
I’ve been telling everyone who bothers to listen that it has aswell and I confidently proceed to tell them that they need it in their life.
I would go as far to say that if I won the lottery I would buy everyone in Perth a copy. Even Australia! Depends on what my winnings were.
It would help if I entered the lottery to entertain this fantasy…
Anyhow, the book is all about how to have healthy boundaries in our relationships. I listened to the first half thinking smugly about how “My friend needs to hear this” “My husband REALLY NEEDS TO HEAR THIS!” But it turns out I’ve been challenged with a nugget or two in that bless’ed book too.
One of the biggest Boundry related struggles I face is in my friendships. It’s crazy how your experiences with friends in primary school can impact you in this arena well into adult life.
I struggled a lot to make friends in school and the popular girl (whoever she happened to be at the time) was always very hot and cold with me. I was flavour of the month one week and complete outcast the next. I am sincere when I tell you my best friend was a tree for a large period of year 4. Atleast he was a good listener!
I think you and I can agree we are made to be connected to others. There’s something deep in our souls that is left longing when we lack significant connections in our world.
Loneliness is not defined by the amount of connections you have but in the quality of those connections.
Ever felt alone in a room? Ever wonder why elderly people experience loneliness in nursing home surrounded by carers and peers? Or how you might feel the sting of lonliness when you feel misunderstood?
It leaves us questioning our worth, and in some people’s cases, the worth of their existence.
But in saying that; holding onto and fighting for healthy and robust relationships is so freaking hard!
Our lives rub against each other’s and soon conflict comes, people drift apart, people get deported back to Malaysia ( recent sadness) , sorry is too hard to say, hidden hurts and resentments remain unsaid, betrayal, jealousy, insincerity, weariness and apathy all contribute to the plethora of crappy relationships we have in our world.
I have become determined to do as much as depends on me to be a great friend. But if I’m honest, I am guilty of the many discords listed above.
And it all comes down to this belief I have held since primary school:
“I am not worthy of love and acceptance”
So what do we do if we walk around with a wound like that?
We protect and we fear.
I protect myself by having lots of humour and frivolity about me. I’m the clown in a room, people laugh at my jokes but I don’t let a lot of people in to see the real and raw Gemma. The one who is deeply sensitive, feeling a lot of things at once, unsure, insecure. And when I have, it hasn’t always gone very well and I’ve been wounded again.
I fear conflict, afraid of saying no, I fear jeopardising the chance of having a lasting friendship. I avoid causing pain or offending others at my own expense. A price I’m willing to pay if I feel atleast on a surface level that people like me.
But I know deep down this is not healthy and it is not the catalyst to growing healthy friendships in my world, which I what I longed for in the first place.
So I’m doing a couple of things to create healthy Boundries and to heal from my past.
– Watch those thoughts!
It’s amazing how self talk impacts your behaviours and feelings. I am working on catching theses thoughts that contribute to negative perceptions of myself and replacing it with a truthful thought.
Brain: “She didn’t invite you to that dinner, she must not really love you after all.”
Me: She does love me and I am worthy of love and acceptance. (Repeat 1 million times in the shower.)
– Worst case scenario
Sometimes it helps to boil your situation down to the worst case scenario to show you it’s actually going to be ok.
Case: What if my worst fears come true and I never end up with any friends who love me and accept me for who I am?
Outcome: I will always have God, my most intimate friend who made me, sees me and good and loves me as I am AND I have Adam who thinks the sun shines out of my butt. So as long as I have them I’m good! Yes I am aware Adam might die before me but just give me a break ok?
– What is the loving thing to do?
In situations where I might avoid standing up for myself or saying no in fear of not being liked or jeopardising a good friendship. I’m going to keep asking God and scripture what is the loving thing to do.
Most of the time it’s the most scary and difficult thing to do but as my friend reaussured me, if a friend can’t take your true feelings, an offense you have to voice with them and not move forward with you, they’re not actually worth having in your world in the first place.
So I hope you buy the Boundries book and I hope you can join me in growing really amazing, fulfilling,robust friendships that have weathered the storms of our best and of our worst.
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”
1 John 4:18 NLT
Be forever free my friend,
x Gem x