What if your desire to avoid hurting anyone is actually the reason you ARE hurting them? What if you’re actually hurting YOURSELF by living out this desire too?
Boundaries don’t hurt others, despite the loud voices that tell you otherwise. Healthy boundaries aren’t meant to control other people, ensure they think well of you, or make you into a prickly cactus no one can approach. They’re a way of living your truest self and your highest calling, while honoring the personhood of everyone around you.
Listen to learn more about:
- The lie that keeps many women in bondage to poor boundaries.
- Possible responses to setting boundaries, and how to reframe your thinking about them.
- The truth that can set you free to live with healthy boundaries and without the guilt!
- How healthy boundaries reflect the heart of Jesus and the way he lived on Earth.
Resources related to this episode:
- Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend
- Flying Free Podcast Episode 12: Defining and Setting Boundaries
- Flying Free Podcast Episode 13: What Happens When You Set Boundaries?
- Flying Free Podcast Episode 60: Are We “Tearing Down Our House” When We Set Healthy Boundaries?
- Flying Free Podcast Episode 62: Seven Things an Abuser Does When You Set Boundaries
- Flying Free Blog Post: A Lesson in Boundaries – When Someone’s Gate Shuts in Your Face
- Check out my Survivor Book List for more excellent boundary-related books!
Click to Play:
Do you have a question related to emotional or spiritual abuse that you’d like answered on the Flying Free podcast? Head over HERE!
It is my honor to speak truth, hope, and healing into women’s lives, including your own, Christy Costa Realtor! Thanks for leaving a rating and review on iTunes!
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But I Don’t Want to Hurt Anyone [Transcript]
Hi. This is Natalie Hoffman of Flyingfreenow.com, and you’re listening to the Flying Free Podcast,
a support resource for women of faith looking for hope and healing from hidden emotional and
Welcome to Episode 91 of the Flying Free Podcast!
Today I want to talk about hurting people. No, I’m not going to teach you how to hurt
people. Most of us aren’t interested in doing that. In fact, most of us stay stuck because we
DON’T want to hurt anyone.
We believe if we take steps to set boundaries or to say “no” or to get free, we will hurt all
the people, and we don’t want to do that.
Most of the women I work with are coming from a stance of love. They love God and they
love their families, and they love their church, and they love their friends. Their love is
responsible and steady. These are the kinds of women that people trust—and for good
reason. They show up because they genuinely care.
They don’t show up only when it’s convenient for them or only when they’ve got an urge to
be nice out of the blue. They don’t show up for others because they’ve got an agenda and
they want something in return from the other person.
They show up because they care. These are not the kinds of people who neglect their
relationships or their responsibilities.
Now you take a woman like that after she’s been burned over and over again by people
who DO take advantage of hard working folks and you begin to educate her in the
importance of taking care of her own personhood, of setting those healthy boundaries,
and of being able to say “no” when necessary so she can say “yes” to her priorities and you
know what happens?
She sees the truth and she wants to do something about it, but what is her NUMBER ONE
CONCERN? You know what she tells me?
“I know I need to make some changes in my life, but I don’t want to hurt anyone.”
She feels the burden of responsibility to manage her husband’s personal life. To manage
her children’s education. To manage all their emotions. To manage their physical health
and well-being. To manage their schedules. To manage her volunteer work at church. To
manage her friendships. To manage her home.
And if she says no to any of it and let’s go of all that responsibility in order to place it where
it belongs, people will get hurt. Her husband will miss his appointments. Her kids won’t do
their homework. Her friends will get upset that she isn’t calling them to check in and see
how they are doing. Her church will have a huge gap in that ministry she was running, and
people will suffer. Her home will never get clean, and the family members will have to wear
dirty clothes to work and school because their servant won’t do their laundry anymore.
So. Much. Suffering. And it will be all. Her. fault.
My first thought is that this woman has a ton of power, doesn’t she? She runs her life and
the lives of everyone around her. If you take her out of their equation, their life falls apart.
But my second thought is that she has given away all her own power to them. They run her
life for their own agendas.
So which is it? Does she have all the power or do they? And who is really hurting here?
I think they’ve all given their power away, and I think they are all hurting as a result. But
each one of those People are NOT hurting because of someone else. They are hurting
because they have given someone else responsibility for their own happiness and wellbeing.
And when human beings do that, they become disillusioned and unhappy.
It’s impossible to be free when you give your freedom away.
You guys, the scenario I just described is how the world seems to operate everywhere you
go. Everyone wants to control everyone else, but nobody wants to do the one simple thing
that could break the spell – and that’s to control your own self. Nothing else. Just yourself.
I’d like to propose a new way of life. Now, just know that most folks will never buy into this
way of life. It goes against our brain’s programming. You see, we’ve literally been
programmed from birth to want to either, one— take control over others, or two—to give
up control to purchase love and acceptance. We do one or the other and sometimes we
But what if we took control of the one life God DID give to us to control, our own, no matter
what anyone else says (and believe me, those who love to control will have total snit fits
when you take back control of your ONE life; THEY want it for themselves). And Christian
people will use Christianese to shame you for taking your life away from them. They’ll tell
you that you are selfish, rude, unloving, stingy, and all the bad things. But just know that
they are simply distraught that you’ve taken away their little plaything, you, and it’s
emotionally upsetting for them. It will take them some time to recover, but you wouldn’t
believe the resiliency of the human spirit.
THEY WILL SURVIVE! And they may even grow up a bit in the process which is always a
good thing for the world.
So, let’s just say you take back your life, and YOU decide what you will and won’t do and
when. YOU decide what you can offer and what you cannot offer. YOU decide when to say
yes or no.
And then, what if you let THEM manage their own drama around all of that. Let them make
your life mean whatever they want it to mean. It’s all fine. They get to be who they are; they
get to have their own rulebook for how life is supposed to work, just like you do.
Here’s the thing. You may discover that some of your friends are not a good match for you.
They want you to be blue and you are a yellow. You’ve been trying to be blue for them for
so dang long but now you decide to be who you are. Yellow. And they don’t like it. Yellow
doesn’t work for them and their agendas. So are they going to be hurt that you’ve
withdrawn your blueness from them and caused them deep upset and distress? Will they
accuse you of changing and hurting their feelings?
Yes, they might. And that could be upsetting to you if you buy into their manual. You see, in
their manual for life, you must be blue. So if you believe that their manual is the master
manual for all people’s everywhere, you may believe that you are responsible for their
emotional well-being. This will cause you to feel guilty, and you may go back to being blue
to ensure their state of emotional equilibrium.
BUT WHAT IF you decided their manual belongs to THEM? What if you knew that their
manual is their own programming based on all of the things they have heard, seen, felt,
experienced, and learned throughout their life and there’s not much you can do about
that. They get to have their manual. They get to believe whatever they want to believe. And
that’s their freedom and their choice.
Does that mean that their pain over you choosing to be your beautiful blue self is your
fault? That you are somehow responsible for their emotional angst over your blueness?
Nope. And Nope. And more Nope.
You see we can’t cause pain in someone else when we are just being ourselves. If they
experience pain, it’s because of what they are making your choices mean for them.
Let’s bring this into real life, okay? Because we’re not really talking about blue and yellow
Let’s say that you decide to stop working in the church nursery because you’ve got your
hands full at home with a two, four, six, and eight-year-old. The nursery coordinator, who is
also a good friend of yours, makes that mean that you are not a very good friend. Now she
has to find a replacement for you and it’s hard to find people who want to be good
Christians and serve in the nursery.
What I’m saying is that’s okay. She can make it mean that. And her feelings might be
hurting, and that’s okay too. The reality is you love her and the church nursery and no, you
can’t work there for a few years. You can totally love and say NO. And they can totally be
mad or sad or bad about it.
And if their emotions cause them to shut you out because they now believe you are no
longer a good friend match for them, then so be it. You’ve lost a bad friend match but
you’ve gained your sanity and peace of mind. IF you can let their emotions belong to them
and not take responsibility for them yourself.
Here’s another example. You tell your kids that if they don’t do their Saturday morning
chores, they don’t get to go to the park that afternoon for a picnic.
They may whine and complain about what a strict parent you are and how you run them
like slaves and take advantage of free labor. They may talk about you behind your back and
conspire to ruin your reputation in the neighborhood. But you know that they get to make
your rules mean whatever they want to make them mean. And you’re going to love them
Here’s another example. You separate from your husband, and your teenagers make that
mean you want the whole family to burn to the ground. Of course you don’t. You have
avoided taking this step for years now, hoping and praying for a miraculous transformation,
but as you enter your 40s and consider the rest of your life, you know you won’t survive
unless you do something. You see your kids growing up and getting ready to launch their
own lives, and you realize you haven’t ever launched yours. Er, you tried, but it got shot
down by the guy you’re now choosing to separate from. Your teenagers get to have their
thoughts, beliefs, and emotions about all of that. That’s okay. But it doesn’t mean you have
to think, believe, or feel the same way or you’re a bad mom. Parents and kids often think
about life in very different ways. That’s normal.
You see, once you can normalize some of the drama, you can be more objective about it.
You don’t have to go deep-diving into the same pool of emotions your kids are swimming
in. You know, as an adult, that your kids will recover (more quickly than you might imagine)
and learn through this family disruption.
Life for your kids is going to be just as hard AND just as wonderful as it was for you. They
will have horrible things happen to them. And they will have amazing things happen to
them. And that’s the human experience. So let them have their human experience. Your
job is simply to love. Not to shield them from hurt. But to love them no matter what.
And that’s the same with everyone else in your life. God didn’t put you on planet Earth to
protect all the humans from pain. But your brain really believes He did. Somehow,
somewhere, your brain got wired with that belief and now you need to decide if you want
to keep that belief or let it go.
God put you on Earth to steward one life. Yours. And your job as a parent is to be an
example of how to do that so your kids have a good role model to follow. So if you’re
always throwing yourself under the bus, saying “yes” to everyone, making sure everyone
around you is pain-free at your expense your kids MAY grow up either being just like you or
exploiting others who are just like you.
And what we really want is for them to grow up taking care of and being personally
responsible for themselves. When they do that, they will have so much mercy and grace
and love for others because they will have lots of practice on themselves. That’s how it
works, my friends.
What I’d like to show you is that when you say “no” to something and then think “I’m hurting
everyone,” you feel guilty. And when you feel guilty, you go out of your way to grovel and
make up for what you just said “no” about and the result is that you end up hurting
yourself. The one person you actually CAN control and take responsibility for.
Bottom line? If we have a pulse and venture out of our hidey holes, it is inevitable that we
will rub someone the wrong way, look the wrong way, make the wrong choice according to
someone else’s manual, and they will make it mean that we have hurt them.
But the only way you actually, in reality, hurt anyone else, including yourself, is when you
take their freedom to be responsible for their own lives away. That’s how we hurt others
here on planet Earth. We steal their personhood from them. Jesus never did that. And he
never let anyone do that to him. Oh, people called him names and plotted against him and
ruined his reputation. And of course, they finally murdered him. But he never let them steal
his identity or his autonomy to make his own choices and do what God called HIM to do.
And he never forced anyone to do what HE wanted them to do either.
See Jesus? Let’s be like Him.
Thanks for listening and until next time, Fly Free!