• Dana Nygaard, LPC

Boundaries: why they matter

Updated: May 6

This is part 1 of a 3-part series by Dana Nygaard, LPC.


Olivia felt the blood drain from her face as soon as the cruel words left her aunt’s mouth: “Maybe this is God’s way of saying you aren’t meant to be parents.” She gasped and instinctively covered her abdomen as if to protect a child yet unconceived. William bit his tongue so the savage retort rising like bile in his throat could not be breathed into life.


Basics of boundaries

If you are reading this blog post, the chances are you’re struggling with this very issue. Most people, like Olivia and William, find it a struggle to set boundaries in their everyday lives. The word, “boundaries” is bandied about a lot, but what exactly does the term mean?


“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.” (Cloud and Townsend, Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life)

Boundaries are emotional, physical and mental limits that exist to keep us safe. Personal boundaries help define your identity. They are similar to property lines around a home. This is your property and that is theirs. This is what you value, believe, need and feel - and that is not. Even in close and intimate relationships with others, you and your spouse remain individuals with independent needs.


The authors of Adult Children: The Secrets of Dysfunctional Families, John & Linda Friel, define three types of boundaries:

  • Rigid - the person’s boundary is too closed

  • Diffuse - the person’s boundary is too open

  • Flexible - the person’s boundary is neither too closed or too open


Individuals with weak boundaries often absorb other people’s negative feelings, which adversely impact physical and mental health. Boundaries help you manage stress, take care of your physical well-being and create healthy relationships. It may be counterintuitive, but setting boundaries strengthens, not weakens, relationships. Find out how strong your boundaries are by taking the Boundaries Quiz created by Cloud and Townsend.


Benefits of setting boundaries

Boundaries are an ultimate form of self-care because you are honoring your needs. When you look after yourself, you will feel healthier and happier, if not downright joyful! This in turn benefits your relationships because you will feel more energetic, patient and be less reactive. Your well-being will increase as your stress level decreases, which benefits fertility.


Research shows that people are more likely to flourish when their behaviors and values are aligned. One aspect of your fertility journey that you can influence is feeling in control by setting limits. Clear expectations prevent misunderstandings and resentment from growing. Healthy boundaries are also intended to be flexible, meaning you can relax them a bit when you feel safe to do so. Any such adjustments take into account that your relationships can deepen when you feel understood, accepted and respected. Most importantly, your stress level will be lower, which benefits fertility.


Your ability to extend empathy, compassion, mercy and love to others is correlated to your capacity for self-awareness. Without strong boundaries you could get preoccupied or drained by fertility insecurities.

“Boundaries are a courageous act of self-love.”

Why it’s hard to set boundaries

Perhaps in your formative years you didn’t have role models for healthy boundaries and self-care. It could be that you grew up in a family where boundaries were too porous or too rigid - privacy was non-existent, feelings were not acknowledged, and you had no voice. Maybe you have not learned to prioritize yourself because your childhood was filled with individuals who ignored their own needs, which brought unpredictability and chaos into your life. You might fear conflict and understandably view standing up for yourself as mean, selfish and unloving.


It could be that you learned to be a caretaker. Your attention is directed towards taking care of the needs of others, usually at your own expense. This could mean that you are more concerned about their feelings than they are about yours. Conceivably, you may not have been allowed to assert yourself and subsequently became a peacekeeper. During your childhood you may have been labeled as “overly sensitive” and shamed into believing that your needs are unimportant and unacceptable.


You may mistakenly believe that it's “unchristian” to set boundaries, but Jesus himself taught us to set boundaries in the following ways.


Meeting his personal needs:

  • Matthew 26:18, 20

  • Mark 4:38

  • Luke 7:36

  • John 10:40, 12:2


Seeking support from friends:

  • Matthew 26:36-38


Practicing solitude:

  • Luke 4:1-2, 14-15, 6:12-13, 22:39-44, 5:16

  • Mark 6:30-32

  • Matthew 14:1-13


Saying “no” to inappropriate behavior”:

  • Luke 5:15-16, 4:28-30 23:8-9

  • Matthew 13:58, 16:23, 21:23-27, 22:15-22

Speaking the truth in love, setting expectations, offering grace and truth

  • Matthew 16:21, 19:13-15, 21:12-17

  • John 2:12-16, 8:1-11


The Fruitful Hollow invites you to look up these passages and reflect on Jesus’s example.

 

Keep Reading…

You can read part 2 in this series, Boundaries: violations, confrontations and unsolicited advice, which covers the following areas:

  • Why people cross boundaries

  • Boundary violations

  • Avoiding confrontational responses

  • Enforcing boundaries

302 views0 comments