Respect the boundaries.

Throughout my life, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity to visit several family members in prison. I can remember as a child how terrifying I thought it was to go. I almost felt like I was the one locked up at that age. Being subjected to all type of rules, searches, and demeaning conversations from the officers in charge always left me feeling incarcerated. Once I learned that it was also a cruel process for the actual inmate to have visitors, it always made me sick to my stomach.

As an adult and visiting, I found the rules rather annoying. Don’t wear certain shirts that may be too low cut. No holes in your jeans. Don’t wear a belt. Don’t bring over a certain amount of money for vending machines. If this particular family member was fortunate enough to be in a visiting room and not behind glass, don’t sit too close. Don’t go past a certain line on the floor. Don’t be in the bathroom too long. I’m sure if you’ve experienced this, you know the list of rules is neverending. Some are outlandish, like who sat down and came up with this.

I remember one in particular had to do with being able to fashion a weapon out of something in the vending machine. I found myself asking, who would do that? An officer overheard me and said, “You’d be surprised.”

All of these rules weren’t created in the beginning, they were formed after incidents happened. After people were hurt and injured. After certain freedoms were taken advantage of.

Rules often stem from unfortunate circumstances that cause them to be necessary (or not). When you are hurt or disappointed, you usually establish a rule to keep yourself from experiencing that again. In life, we call these boundaries.

One thing I struggle with is setting boundaries in personal relationships at the beginning. I found myself doing things I really don’t want to do because it’s an established pattern. But what if I applied that to everything before hand?

We all have our “deal breakers” when it comes to personal, business, or romantic relationships. However, we often are already deep in when these things happen. How can we go about setting healthy boundaries ahead of time so that all parties involved are fully aware and expectations are set?

Know yourself and what you need

You cannot possibly set a healthy boundary if you don’t know what it is you want to allow in your life. For some this may come from trial and error and for others there are just certain things you know off jump. One of the hardest things I’ve done this year is evaluate my life, where I want to improve and what I want to attract, honestly. Being truthful to yourself will allow you to really dig deep into what you want.

Move according to #1.

You ever notice someone who claims they have a “type” but you always see them with the total opposite? This is a very surface example, but I often have to check myself about this as well. Once number one is established, I have to move according to those things. I cannot expect God to send me what I want if I’m not reflecting that.

This also comes with maturity. As you become wiser, you realize that a physical type shouldn’t be your priority. You learn to understand what type of person you want around you, what your spirit and mind are attracted to and not just your body.

Be okay with walking away

This is my problem. I’ll admit it. I can say I have set a boundary all day, but if I let anyone violate that boundary and still allow them to stay in my life, it’s a joke at this point.

Yes, it’s always good to be able to forgive and allow people room to grow and learn from their mistakes, but you set your boundary for a reason. Letting someone violate them over and over again only lessens their respect for you and makes you resentful. It’s okay to chalk that relationship up to good memories and lessons learned…no need to bring that into your present and future life.

Often times we wait until we are hurt to put restrictions on what we’ll allow. What we don’t understand is this also creates resentment that can spill over into new relationships that had nothing to do with the initial hurt. Being able to set boundaries on what you will allow will keep your peace protected and allow you to go into new relationships with an open mind, knowing that you have provided these boundaries ahead of time.

What are some ways you set boundaries? Do you stick to them? I’ll be the first to admit that I often bend mine for whatever reason. Let’s help each other get intentional.

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