Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by your emotions? If so, you’re not alone. Let me tell you about my client, Megan*, who settled into a lovely retreat center with an ocean view. The peaceful backdrop was everything she hoped it would be. She soon discovered, though, that sitting quietly only made her more . . . anxious. Unable to quell the competing thoughts in her mind, she gave up and started streaming her favorite TV show. Megan desired to rest, but her racing thoughts refused to slow down. Caught in a minefield of shoulds, can’ts, and what-were-you-thinkings, the more she tried to tame her thoughts, the worse she felt.
Can you identify in some way with Megan’s inner turmoil? You work hard, try to set boundaries with others, and then wonder why you still struggle inside. Could it be that you need boundaries . . . from the inside out?
What Are Boundaries for Your Soul?
We all get what it means to have boundaries with other people, but have you given much thought to your own internal boundaries? It can be helpful to think of your difficult emotions as belonging to parts of your soul.
And there are two opposite, unhealthy ways of relating to burdened parts of your soul. You can keep them too close to you or you can push them too far away. If they’re too close, you risk being overwhelmed by them. If they’re too far, you risk being cut off from them, only to be influenced by them in harmful ways.
Instead, parts of your soul carrying painful burdens need to be heard, honored, and understood in order for you to be able to help them. Furthermore, they have much to teach you when you get to know them. The key is to keep them at a comfortable distance.
When you care for your soul, you’re reshaping and redefining your thoughts and feelings, and inevitably your actions too. You’re taking responsibility for creating and maintaining healthy internal boundaries. You’re strong inside. You’re able to respond with more resilience to life’s challenges.
You’re true to the person God created you to be and to the work he has planned for you to do. You’re realistic about your limitations and have a clear sense of your own values, vision, mission, and priorities. You understand that the health of your relationships and the sustainability of your service depend on your ability to guide your emotions in partnership with the God who created you.
Like Megan, you probably know that this inner strength doesn’t come naturally. That’s where my book, Boundaries for Your Soul, can help. It walks you through a process of establishing healthy boundaries with your conflicting emotions, competing for control. And the next thing you know . . . you’ll have great boundaries with others too!
“Fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
(from Romans 12:1-2, The Message)