Healthy Boundaries - Knowing When To Say Yes, Or No.
Knowing when and how to discern situations and avoiding pitfalls of doing too much in your life is hard, but a necessary lesson to learn. It is not healthy to say yes to every situation that you encounter in life. Staying continuously connected in all situations can lead to some serious burnout. Once an individual has stretched themselves too thin without setting any boundaries, then they become ineffective in the ability to serve others. I recommend that one set aside specific days of the week just for the self, no one else gets time during those moments. There is rarely an email or a phone call that is so critical that we must answer it right away. There are, of course, exceptions... such as when someone is in crisis. But know this, no one is here to save the World, only to help and guide others if we can. Ultimately each individual must do the work for themselves.
We have to know when to be of help in our community. We also need to be smart about it too. The following events happened to me. They are specific to my understanding when to be of help, and when to step back with boundaries established to protect myself from potentially toxic people.
I was at a Coffee Shop in Madison, Wisconsin with my friend Pastor Amanda. A woman had walked in and was very upset. She asked if we could buy a cup of coffee for her. So I did just that. When returning with her coffee, I grabbed my business card to give her and told her if she needed to talk to someone to give me a call. She was crying, so I asked if I could hug her. She nodded yes, so I did with the love of Christ in me. Then I told her if she needed to talk to someone to give me a call.
Another time, I was at the River Food Pantry getting lunch with a Physicist friend of mine. We had met a couple of years earlier when his Van was stuck in some very deep Snow in a parking lot. I am a Wisconsinite, with a lot of Winter driving experience. I Knew how to direct and help him to get his Van to move. Our friendship grew from that point on. He is from South Korea and struggles with communication, but over time we have learned to understand each other. It was wonderful sharing this experience with this very kind man. What I enjoy about my relationship with this man. Who is a scientist, and I am a man of God. Both of us respect that and never abuse each other. Just to clarify, I am super supportive of the Scientific method. It is often way over my head, but when he does talk of these things of science I listen. Once in a while, I will speak of the things involved with my Ministry, he in turn listens and respects that.
One time I was confronted by a tall skinny guy about sixty years old. I could tell that he was either an alcoholic or what is known as a dry drunk. His energy just didn't sit well with me, he came across as abrasive and very negative. He asked me for a lift in my car with the groceries that he had picked up from the food pantry. My spider-sense started tingling, something didn’t feel right. I could see this man’s potential for unleashing an incredible amount of drama on me.
I apologized and told him that I couldn’t take him because I had no room. My car was jammed full of Clothing and hygiene items to be given to the homeless in the area. He began to try to manipulate me, saying we could just put them on the roof of my car. I informed him that that was not safe and not happening. I stood my ground and remained firm that I could not help him. He started to get very upset about it, his face became full of rage and anger, his passive-aggressive nature was shifting from the passive, into a very aggressive posture. As I walked away he escalated to name-calling. I kept telling him to stop harassing me, but he kept on doing it along with trying to guilt-trip me. I let him know he doesn’t get to decide what my core values are, even though he kept screaming at me and hurling insults, I got into my vehicle, and drove away.
Had I agreed to give this man a ride in my car, it would most likely have become much worse. I am not willing to set myself up for someone else’s drama. so I had to say no, to set a boundary. I could tell that he had an abusive personality from the start. Everything about his posture provided the necessary information that I needed to know that to continue any type of relationship with this person would open a door potentially for an incredible amount of abuse.
I have presented here three stories. Examples of three very distinct different personality traits. The first one was an example of a broken person who was experiencing some darkness in her life. I recognized that it was probably a domestic abuse situation. I discerned that she was in peril and genuinely needed me. The second story is with an individual of a different background, enjoying each other’s company, sharing fellowship, and allowing for differences. The third story is an example of being careful about what you make available and setting appropriate boundaries. I knew that allowing this man access into my life could jeopardize me, just being around him was not safe, and very toxic to me.
We have to know when to be of service to our community, When to be fed by our peers, and when to deny other people’s drama from spilling over into our world. Their unresolved issues and pain does not need to dictate our reactions. We can choose to put a stop to emotional blackmail, we absolutely can and must shun mentally underdeveloped attacks. I refuse to allow anyone free rent in my head or heart space. I often will tell an abusive person this:
I never allow abuse from a partner that I am in a relationship with,
let alone a stranger to me.
The reason that I can be available to individuals who are hurting or in need of processing something, is my daily practice of Study, Meditation, and Prayer. Many think that those who are Religious or spiritual are seeking comfort from a Sky Daddy. That is not my walk at all. It is a very deep inward conversation with God. God is not Santa Clause who brings me presents on Christmas day, nor is God a Genie in a bottle that grants me three wishes. For my own personal interpretation of what God is; God is a constant force, Omnipresent in all things. Permeating throughout all of the Stars, Planets, Continents, People, Plants, Animals, and smallest of Creatures, including the Water in the Oceans and the Rain that falls from the Sky. God is also a still small voice within me, who guides me with skill. Like the small rudder on a boat, God is both the rudder and the Captain of my Vessel. A gentle guiding force.
Because of my daily practice of Study, Meditation, and Prayer. I recognize when someone is a friend or a foe. The hair on the back of my neck can stand straight up when I get around someone who feeds on another's pain or fear. I have noticed in my life that many abusive people are just allowing their pain to spill over onto other People and Animals. It does not excuse their behaviors, but it gives me a better understanding of why some are the way they are. These are individuals who have not matured, or found their peace in the center. Quite often they are quick to exhibit fits of rage, jealousy, and disputes. Quite often, my only course of action; is to dust the dirt off of my shoes and walk on in strength and courage.
There are some in this world, whose purpose is to operate as a Psychic Vampire. These types will do everything possible to drain others of their strength and energy. Often they recognize a strong individual and want some of that strength. So they will do their best to manipulate them into a situation that will feed them. There is nothing wrong with putting a stop to enabling other people's bad behaviors. Toxic people are good at manipulating people to do their bidding, they can also be very good at playing the victim in many situations. Do your best to establish boundaries, it is self-protective and will give your mental health room to grow and not feel shame or guilt for saying no.
Setting healthy boundaries is evidence of a core value system that protects the self from harm. There is nothing wrong with saying no to someone if you are feeling like you are not comfortable with the question, or even the possible journey you will have to take if you say yes. There should be no shame or guilt from declining to partake in a situation. A healthy person will recognize your core values when you say no. They will leave it at that and not pursue it. A manipulative person will not be able to let it rest. Be firm and assertive, with great strength and good courage in your desires. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. Answering with a "maybe" could prolong the inevitable. It can manifest in very uncomfortable manifestations. I recommend avoiding an open-ended statement that permits the other person to come back to you. Recognize that and let your answer be a yes or a no.
Pray without ceasing, learn your truth, discover your center and you will do well in all situations. We must discern when talking to individuals who are strangers as we may be entertaining Angels and not know it, but the situation will help you decide. We must at all times do justice, practice peace, have mercy, and walk humbly with our God. It is a tricky thing to do in a world where so many walk with the light, yet others seem to dance in the darkness. Always remember Doctor King's message that hate cannot drive out hate, only light can drive out the darkness. That light is Love.
Abraham meets with God and Angelic Beings.
When talking to a stranger, you may be talking with Angels
Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no
Avoid the council of bitter or wicked people, then whatsoever you do will prosper and thrive. Bearing good fruit.
To always perform acts of justice, to love mercy, and to walk with humility before your God.
Healthy Boundaries In Student Ministry
(Applicable for all Ministries, or individual aspects of life. From your job, to personal relationships)
Document created on March 8, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document updated and revised April 1, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document updated and revised April 10, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document updated and revised April 11, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document updated and revised April 14, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document Edited and Revised on April 23, 2020 by Ghost Writer
Document Edited, Revised, and Updated April 23, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf
Document Edited, Revised and Updated April 25, 2020 by AJ White-Wolf