Unfortunately, there isn't a one size fits all when it comes to boundaries and knowing when to place them. Each situation and personality is unique, and what works for one, may not work for another. Sometimes you will need to dig deeper into the situation before you know what and when a particular boundary is needed.
Key Questions To Ask Yourself (When or If A Boundary Is Necessary):
1. Is this person or situation causing you to feel uncomfortable, anxious, angry, guilty, or ashamed?
2. Is this person or situation causing you to neglect your relationship with God, your spouse, children, or family?
3. Is this person or situation causing you to disregard your personal needs (emotionally, spiritually, academically, financially, or physically)?
4. Is this person or situation placing you in an unhealthy or potentially dangerous situation?
5. Is this person or situation inviting you (willingly or unwilling) to go against standards, values, expectations, or morals that require secretiveness that if found out would create stress, anxiety, fear, or concern to those who know you and care about your well-being?
In order to effectively answer these questions in any given situation you need to know yourself well (what do you think, feel, believe etc) and you must be willing to recognize that you have a personal responsibility and accountability before God. While there IS grace, mercy, and forgiveness for those who are truly repentant, there is still accountability and we will answer before God. There is an immense difference in supporting, encouraging, and being a team player, or even a "good friend," and that of being uncomfortable, stressed, or feel the need to be secretive due to guilt, shame, or not wanting accountability.
Areas Where Boundaries May Be Necessary:
1. Over committing. Some people are great at delegating and filling positions or responsibilities, however, there is a fine line in feeling guilty and in taking reasonable responsibility. We can't fill every need and responsibility especially at the expense of one of the Key Questions listed above. Find the balance and if your plate is genuinely full it's okay to say, "No." This may not be your season and that is okay. Sometimes we step up only because someone needs to do it or we have been asked and are afraid to say,"No." When we step in for these reasons it becomes a quality over quantity issue. Guilt over desire. Be committed to being a quality volunteer or doer. Be aware of only saying, "Yes" because you are to afraid to say, "No."
2. Some people are more needy than others and if you tend to be a care giver type or a leader it is easy for others to monopolize your time and zap your emotional or physical energy, all without malicious intent. These boundaries are challenging to enforce because it usually involves family or close friends and there is a genuine need that is not manipulative. It's important to be able to place whatever boundaries may be necessary in order to maintain a quality relationship. Be committed to being fully present, fully engaged, and being a quality care giver or leader within your family or circle of close friends and this will help you know what those particular boundaries may need to look like and feel like.
3. If someone is asking you to compromise your values, morals, or beliefs to justify their behavior or desires, that is clearly a red flag. If you feel obligated out of guilt, fear, or coerced, you need to place a firm boundary and quite possibly consider removing yourself from this persons life. This is a red flag of a potential abuser or manipulator. Red flags usually don't change color.
Recognizing boundary needs is not easy, however, once you begin to see boundaries as a positive and a way to be more effective and present within your family, circle of friends, church, work, etc. you will find yourself feeling more confident and hopeful!
Remember healthy boundaries allow you to have empathy (understanding) for others without taking responsibility for them. Finding a balance between taking care of yourself (emotionally) and being there for others, without being manipulated, abused, or intimidated (whether intentionally or not).
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23
For nothing will be impossible with God. Luke 1:3
There is always HOPE!