Live Within Our Limits

Posted on October 29, 2012

Like it or not, we are limited beings given the gift of one body within which to live this one life. What would it look like to live in acceptance of our limits, including our relational capacities, our physical, emotional, and spiritual nature, and as finite people living within this time and space? Here are some thoughts on how to honor the limits of who we are by living within the boundaries that we have been given rather than pushing, stretching, and fighting to have or control that which does not belong to us.

Freedom to Choose Self-Control

Each of us has been given personal freedoms and with this reality comes a great responsibility to use our freedom wisely and exercise self-control in order to live the best life possible for ourselves and others.  We are accountable to all aspects of our life, including our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.  By taking ownership of what has been given to us, including our attitudes, emotions and speech, we are able to walk in freedom.

Enemies to a Life of Truth

However, there are many enemies to this way of living. Think of how easy it is to become motivated by fear, anger, or guilt rather than love. Some face addiction patterns that cause us to lose control of our actions. We experience controlling or dysfunctional relationships and generational wounds that continue to prohibit full life. Many know the pain of religious practice fueled by dread or guilt versus an expression of love and freedom. Others experience paralyzing thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that keep us from solving problems in our lives or fighting evil we see around us.

We have many resources at our disposal to limit the effects of unhealthy patterns or enemies to freedom. These can include understanding and clinging to what is true, using healthy confrontation, setting limits or distance for yourself and others with clear consequences, the process of forgiveness, building discipline, seeking restoration, practicing encouragement, and utilizing group intervention. Walking with a safe and trusted friend, mentor, or counselor can help a great deal as you seek to make healthy changes.  

Freedom in Relationships

Most of us have someone in our lives that is very difficult to relate to. Some feel miserable or powerless in a particular relationship because they cannot make the other person change. What we must realize is that the behavior is the other person’s to own, while what I feel and do in response belongs to me. Owning this truth is where freedom and restoration begins, because now we can seek to let go of the actions of others and regain control of our responses, rather than be manipulated by the emotions, words, or behaviors of others.

The idea of setting relational boundaries may sound selfish or even harsh. Boundaries are really about freedom to love. With control over what belongs to me and letting go of what belongs to others, I am choosing a healthy love for self which enables me to love others more. No one is able to do this perfectly at all times. We must be kind and gracious to ourselves as we continue to grow.

I encourage us to take personal inventory of what is within our limits and what is not. What responsibilities have been given to you? Where might you need to work to let go of that which does not belong to you? May we walk in greater freedom by living within our limits.

For more on this topic:

The Simple Scoop on Boundaries by Henry Cloud, Ph.D 

Thoughts on healthy ways of relating within a spiritual community from Ruth Haley Barton, Ph.D. 

Emotional and relational boundaries for wellness by Kim Chartrand

Setting Healthy Boundaries: Allowing the True Self to Emerge by Carl Benedict, LCPC  

Relationship Boundary Assessment: Finding and Strengthening Your Boundaries by Loretta Sparks, LMFT

 

Written by: Lindsay Gentry, MA, NCC

Lindsay has a Master of Arts degree in Community Counseling from Denver Seminary and is a National Certified Counselor. To contact Lindsay call 317-474-6448 ext. 117 or email Lindsay@groffandassociates.com.

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NzE6Imh0dHA6Ly9ncm9mZmFuZGFzc29jaWF0ZXMuY29tL3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1ncm9mZl9oZWFkZXIucG5nIjt9PC9saT48L3VsPg==