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Many times we are reluctant to set boundaries with others, say no to them, or confront issues in our relationships because we don't want to deal with the conflict. 

What we may not realize is that the conflict already exists—inside us—where it may do far more harm.

We pay a very high cost for internal conflict; headaches, muscle tension, backaches, stomach problems, and other stress related illnesses.

Our reluctance to bring the internal conflict to an external conflict may eliminate an uncomfortable confrontation, but at what price?
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not  down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have [sufficient] to finish [it]?  Lest haply, after he hath laid  the foundation, and is not able to finish [it], all that  behold [it] begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to  build, and was not able to finish.
(Luke 14:28-30)
What Are You Getting?
The first question to ask yourself before you externalize the conflict and set a boundary is, "What am I getting out of this relationship as it is now?"  There is always a trade off.

In order for you to put up with what is going on, there has to be something in the relationship that is meeting a need in your life.  It could be financial, emotional, physical, spiritual, or social.

When you pinpoint what that is, ask yourself, "Can I meet this need in a healthier way?"  For instance, your parents are providing babysitting service for you, but want to tell you how to raise them and refuse to follow your instructions in discipline.

What you are getting is free babysitting. Can you afford to pay someone else and eliminate the problem? Or do you address the problem with your parents and possibly risk the relationship?

Jesus was talking about trade-offs in Luke:
If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and  his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:26
There are times when you must be willing to forsake the old to obtain the new.  To be a disciple of Christ, you had to love family and friends and their opinions less than Christ.

(The word hate in this scripture is defined as "love less.")  In each step of growth, we have to give up something.

When you were two years old, you may have carried around a teddy bear for emotional support.  At that stage in your development, it was perfectly acceptable; however, there came a time when you had to give up the teddy bear and move on to grade school and friends.

You transferred to healthier ways to meet your needs.

Some people become stuck in unhealthy ways because they are unwilling to let go of their emotional teddy bears.  In order to grow emotionally, you have to be willing to give some things up.  The quest is in determining how and when.

Are You Willing to Risk the Relationship?
Anytime you set a boundary or say "no" to someone, you are taking a risk.  There is always the possibility that they may choose to end the relationship.  They may not be willing to make changes, and that is their choice.  You must be ready for that possibility.

If that does happen, can you live with it?  If the answer is "no," then you should reconsider, and hold off until you are ready.  The conflict may eventually become so serious that you may be willing to do anything to resolve it.
  • If you set a boundary with your boss, you may lose your job.
  • If you set a boundary with your spouse, they may leave.
  • If you set a boundary with a friend, they may stop calling.
  • If you set a boundary with a parent, they may cut off financial support.
These are worst case scenarios, but you have to count the cost.

If you are emotionally or financially unable to handle the loss, then work on your emotional stability (find other sources of emotional support) and get your finances in order.

Don't be held in bondage by emotional and financial needs. Life is too short too live in bondage.

Can You Handle the Emotions?
When you decide to proceed with setting your boundaries, prepare yourself for the emotions that you will face.  You will not only have to deal with their anger, blame, and pain but also your feelings of guilt.

If they have controlled you in the past with anger, that is what you can expect.  If they have controlled you by putting a guilt trip on you, then be ready, here it comes again.

Imagine each reaction, anger, pain, blame, and see yourself successfully dealing with it. 

(Note:  If the person has reacted in violence before or you suspect they will, do not attempt to set any boundary.  You cannot reason with violence.  If you are in danger, remove yourself and seek intervention and safety from a qualified third party.)

Have a Plan to Make Up for Your Loss
If you've reached a point where you must draw a line and end a job, try to have another lined up.  If you must end a friendship, have a plan for meeting new friends.

If you need emotional support before, during, and after setting a boundary, look for a support group or 2 or 3 healthy individuals who are willing to lend an ear and encourage you.

Avoid family, friends, and preachers who exercise their position to condemn you and use scriptures to oppress you and keep you in unhealthy relationships.  Jesus' message was one of freedom.

Anyone who uses the scriptures to keep you in bondage is of the wrong spirit.  Religion oppresses people, the message of Christ liberates them.

If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36)

Charles Capps Ministries All rights reserved.

Author Biography

Annette Capps
Web site: Charles Capps Ministries
Annette Capps is the daughter of author and teacher Charles Capps. She is an ordained minister, businesswoman, and pilot.

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