Let’s Talk

Relationship Builders

Q. What are some relationship builders for those of us with boundary issues?

A. Let’s Talk! Good and healthy conversations—spoken or written—are the vehicles for stronger and clearer boundaries, whether you have been too enmeshed or too distant. I’ll share some examples below.

If you have been too soft, wishy-washy, double-messaged, or enmeshed in your boundaries with others, here’s a good conversation starter for healthier relationships:

“I have recently seen that I fail to say no when I want to at times. Because I care about relationships and enjoy serving others, I am prone to be a doormat. This is a perversion of being a servant actually. I am trying to learn when I am to say no and when I am to say yes and be true to my soul and spirit. [Jesus said no many times!] So, when I say no to you, please hear me, especially since it is new for me and hard for me to say.”

If you have issues concerning too many boundaries, mostly no-s, here is a conversation starter for you:

“I have recently seen that I fail to say yes when I should. The pattern of my cautious life has been to say no, because then I feel more in control and more protected. But, I see that my over-protection is over-control and is not a relationship builder. I would like to begin saying yes when it is appropriate.”

Let me know if this helps!

Deeper Reflection

Matthew 5:37: But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ be ‘No.’”

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

Relationship Busters

Q. What are some more relationship busters besides doormat living (your last column)?

A. Let’s Talk! Last post we talked about needing to say “no” when appropriate so you are not walked on, which is about maintaining too few boundaries. Another topic along this line is when one has TOO MANY boundaries. Let’s take a look at that now.

We talked last time about the underlying story of why one has too few boundaries (doormat living): often it’s about being a people pleaser.

When someone has too many boundaries, he or she exhibits an unspoken message to others to not come close. With this emotional distancing, the person appears too fragile, too busy, too angry, or as though they have put up another “wall” of some description. The reasons underneath that wall vary, of course, but usually there is a deep hurt or injury that has not been processed and healed.

Do you see a common denominator? Yes, people. There’s a cost when we injure others, and a cost when we let others injure us. Having too few boundaries or too many boundaries are not emotionally healthy places. If you find yourself in either category, I do encourage you to get professional help to unravel the places of injury to your heart and relationships.

Yes, you know the next thing I am going to say. God also longs to complete the healing needed for your boundary issues. Not as a mask or as a stick-on answer, but for the deeper healing needed.

For Deeper Reflection

Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” [emphasis mine]

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com 

Doormat Living

Q. What are the characteristics of being a “doormat?”

A. Let’s Talk! Being a doormat involves feelings of being walked on. Moreover, this form of codependency means a person fails to set boundaries and has difficulty saying “no.

In many cultures and families, saying “no” seems impolite and not kind. But when saying “yes” most of the time – when you really want to say “no” — gives way to dysfunctional living.

I never thought I would be teaching small children to say “no” to family members, friends, classmates, etc., but as an elementary counselor, I did teach them to refuse when they were asked to do something wrong or unsafe. This message is just as important for adults. We live in such a not-safe world.

When you say “yes” and don’t say “no” — and you wish you hadn’t agreed — that’s a clue you are doormat-ing. There’s also a sinking feeling, an uh-oh feeling in the pit of your stomach.

I love finding Scriptures that speak into my life and can you believe there are even some verses in Isaiah 51 and 52 that urge us not to let others walk on us? Let us know your thoughts on doormat living.

For Deeper Reflection

Isaiah 51: 7b, 22, 23; Isaiah 52:2

Do not fear the reproach of man,
Nor be dismayed at their revilings.

Thus says your Lord, the Lord, even your God
Who contends for His people,
“Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of reeling,
The chalice of My anger;
You will never drink it again.
“I will put it into the hand of your tormentors,
Who have said to you, ‘Lie down that we may walk over you.’
You have even made your back like the ground
And like the street for those who walk over it.”

Shake yourself from the dust, rise up,
O captive Jerusalem;
Loose yourself from the chains around your neck,
O captive daughter of Zion.


Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com 

Let’s Talk

About Relationships, Boundaries, and Listening

Q. Could you please share some more about healthy relationships and boundaries?

A. Let’s Talk! Healthy friends learn to listen well with their hearts, don’t give unasked-for advice, and have wise boundaries. They are not controlling or needy. . . let’s stop there for a bit.

One of the sentences I heard long ago that I have chewed on over the years is, “Codependent friends don’t have relationships – they take hostages!”

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the expectations of a friend? Does a friend often take over your schedule — either not mindful of your time or disregarding your needs while focused on his or her needs only? Do your friends invite dialogue or do they want you to think like they do? Do your friends share you, or do they want you all to themselves? The list goes on, but you get the drift.

Another name for codependency is relationship addict. Where there has been emotional neglect or lack of emotional nurturing, that is the natural setup for looking for comfort in relationships/people. But! It’s a trap, isn’t it?

What’s the alternative? I believe the real cure is looking to God for what mankind just can’t give. People were never meant to fill up that hole in our hearts. Relationship dependency is a counterfeit of the real deal. We’ll talk more about healthy relationships in the next post.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Peter 2:19b, “For by what a man [or woman] is overcome, by this he [or she] is enslaved.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

 

Let’s Talk

Healthy Boundaries for the Christmas Season

 

Q.  Could you give us your “Top 5 Boundary Blessings” for the season?

A. Let’s talk about helping our hearts to have peaceful memories in this next week and in the next year. Several times this year I have said, “IT MATTERS what messages we take in and what messages we give others.” So, let’s do a quick review of boundary suggestions to bring blessings:

• If your boundaries (setting a limit and saying no) are too weak, you might be enabling the poor choices of others or even your own. We are called to serve others, but not be a Christmas doormat in our permissiveness.

• It is not healthy to assume the responsibilities of others. We rob others from learning responsibility if we take theirs on. Many of us are “fixers” and like feeling important with a rescue, but what is the message to others? Ask for help this season if you need it, and resist rescuing others who haven’t asked for help.

• If your boundaries are too harsh, you might be sending messages to others to not come near you. Could your anger, demands, or fragility be messages to others that create distance this season?

• It’s OK to say “no” to others if you have an “uh oh” feeling. Listen to the quiet voice inside you.

• It’s OK to say, “I can’t do this, but I can do this . . . .” Negotiate! Let your voice be loving and respectful – but firm. Is it hard for you to say no? In some families, the “no” word feels harsh; but if said respectfully, it helps families establish healthy limits. Is your message modeling a healthy verbal exchange for other family members? That’s a gift exchange!

[We’ll continue this theme in January 2014!]

For Deeper Reflection

This season is about messages, as the message of Jesus’ birth pushes back darkness. May the breaking through of finding your own place and voice be like the dawn following a long dark night. Be blessed by the following message, condensed from the December 2013 newsletter of Ransomed Heart Ministries. John Eldredge writes:

Whatever else Christmas might be, it is a demonstration beyond all doubt that God keeps His word – He intervenes. He promised He would come . . . and He came. On a cold night in Bethlehem, in a far corner of the Roman Empire, when His people had pretty much figured the Kingdom would never come, He came. We have to push back all the other holiday messages for a moment and simply let the reality of the Incarnation hit us fresh again. He said He would come, and He did.

He is coming, soon, once-and-for-all. Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn. If you haven’t spent time in the woods through the last hours of the night, you might be surprised to know that it tends to get very cold right before the dawn. It can be a bit disheartening for the uninitiated, if you do not know that the bitter chill is merely a sign that things are finally turning, and the night is about to fade away. Dawn is coming, warmth and light and beauty are coming even though it just got colder than it had been all night.

John 1:4-5 “In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

Romans 13:12  “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

 

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com.