Toxic Tuesday: Boundaries
“She dresses herself with strength.” Proverbs 31:17
There is a way to remain strong and to thrive despite interacting with a difficult person. It isn’t easy because when you are in the middle of relational turmoil or are receiving a verbal lashing it can be challenging to keep your thoughts straight. Thinking quickly typically does not happen. If you are like me, you have to think about and pray about the situation before acting, speaking or setting a boundary. Having a plan of action in advance will safeguard you and will be beneficial to the other person. Often the difficult person has a tough time with self-control and your boundary can actually help them keep an emotional or verbally abusive outburst from erupting.
Does your D.P. (difficult person) keep asking the same questions over and over? Do they refuse your answer and creatively find another avenue to demand the response or resolution they desire? Do you continually hope for an agreement? Do you long to be rationally understood?
Disagreements abound. There may be several answers or opinions to a subject but not to your D.P. To them it is black and white and their way or opinion is the only correct one. Do not waste your time arguing. Perhaps using, “That is your opinion” repetitively will soon keep your D.P. from attempting to overtake you on the matter again. It isn’t that your D.P. forgets the previous conversation you had on the topic. It is that your D.P. is attempting to wear you down. “That is your opinion,” used consistently will remind your D.P. the ‘wear them down’ tactic is no longer a working strategy to be used against you. I’m not saying they will not continue to try, I’m saying, “That is your opinion,” is a gentle reminder to them that this conversation is going nowhere. This also shows them that you are keeping your opinion and your dignity.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NIV) Although your reply will not be received as gentle it is working in a gentler way than arguing words which are being fired at you from a flaming tongue.
Is the topic to which you have already given an answer being approached—again? Think about this response, “I am not discussing this with you.” Any time your D.P. brings up the topic in hopes of receiving a different answer from you; remember this easy phrase. You will most likely have to say it several times as long as this person stays in your life.
“Say just a simple ‘Yes, I will’ or ‘No, I won’t.’ Your word is enough.” Matthew 5:37 (Living Bible)
If your D.P. likes to make decisions for you or give you orders but they are not an authority figure, “That’s not what I was thinking” or “That’s not what I had in mind,” are examples of good phrases to learn. After your D.P. has heard the same phrase multiple times they will remember the boundary before trying to cross it again.
If your life is in danger or you think these responses could place your life in danger use your good judgment and refrain from possibly making the situation worse. If you are in danger please leave immediately and seek help. In the right margin of my blog you will find links to articles on abusive relationships, resources for counseling services and referrals, and a link for those who are victims of domestic abuse.
If you are dealing with an individual suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder they will never tire of attempting to wear you down. They are not able to see your point of view; they are not capable of empathizing, loving or bonding. They are users who recruit people for close relationship who can be used for a specific purpose to improve their existence, provide a cover for something they don’t want others to find out about them or meet an unhealthy desire. Maybe you have recently come to this realization about someone in your life. Although you may see this and know this, the most maddening part of it is that no one on the outside sees it. That is because a narcissist lives their life on a stage acting out the role they think the other person wants to see. They are the grandest actors you could ever have the disadvantage of being in any type of relationship with. Here is a very important character trait to remember when dealing with a narcissist: Self-control. Although telling them how you feel or giving them a verbal reprimand may feel good to you; when it is all said and done you will soon realize it was wasted time, emotion, words, energy and thoughts because not one word of it will be taken seriously or to heart. In the end this will further frustrate you. A narcissist has no other point of reference other than themselves.
These lessons have been hard experiences I have lived through and learned from, but I only learned from them because I spent extensive time in prayer and Bible study, and had the loving support of family and some of the best friends a girl could ask for from God. If you make time for Jesus, through prayer and Bible study, and invite Him into all areas of your life; you will never regret it or think, “That was time wasted.” Never.
“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.” Proverbs 31:30 (NIV)
Most likely the issue with your D.P. is control. These personalities long to having power over other people but now that you are on to them, you can set up safe and healthy boundaries to protect yourself and your loved ones. You will recognize the behavior when you see it and not be caught off guard. I remember the feeling when I finally began to recognize it. Your, “Ah hah” moment is coming!
“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31: 25-26 (NIV)
Most importantly, practice I Corinthians 13:2, “but (if I) have not love, I am nothing.” (ESV)
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)