Boundaries: Safety from toxic sludge

The importance of extending boundaries in life.  Drawing the line.  Separating from those that bring toxicity into relationships. This process can be incredibly difficult, particularly if one might be the proverbial “people pleaser.”

I used to believe those in my life, had a “right” to be part of the “inner circle” of my life.  Through recent years, I have learned that not to be true.  No one holds the “right” to a place in your life.  

Throughout the past few years I’ve come to realize a lot about toxic relationships.  I was unaware of the instability and unhealthiness of many of my relationships until the floor fell from beneath my feet.

I have spent time examining relationships and I have accepted that healthy boundaries are necessary in order to protect myself and those I love from harm.

Before examining the relationships in your life, remember that there is a difference between toxic relationships and those which are challenging.  

So what might a toxic relationship look like? Here are a few characteristics which can help to “weed out” those unhealthy relationships.

1. Always giving advice:  The need to fix everything and everyone.  The one who is critical and sees everything and everyone as broken. The one who can do it better and has all the answers. Now advice giving is not wrong.  Everyone needs advice at times but there are those who talk and talk but never listen.  They are quick to speak and ready to pounce the minute you finish your sentence. So if someone never waits to be asked but is ready to give, and lacks any sort of humility or respect in their approach, take heed.

2. Over the top:  From the instant they first appear on the scene, everything is wonderful.  You are wonderful.  You are the only person who “gets it” in their life.  Everything you say is “spot on.”  BIG FAT RED FLAG.  They are trying way too hard, so the question becomes; why?  I know I am not that great and everything I say is NOT spot on so why the big production?  Tread carefully.

3. Center of attention:  Not typically hard to recognize.  It’s more than just being the one to talk the most or loudest in a group.  Perhaps it is the person who instantly cites their resume to you upon first meeting.  For me I’ve found when serving with someone, if our first meeting includes a list of their qualifications, I might be in trouble.  There needs to be humility.  Allow others to discover your “good works.”  

4. No room for grace:  This one is huge for me.  They are quick to point out the failures in others yet can somehow magically miss the huge plank in their own eye.  They shun or judge others they do not truly know.  They cause disunity among community and family.  

5. Those who “fake it”:  I have become acutely aware of those who will smile and hug me like they love me and the second I leave the room, talk about me.  I can spot a fake smile and hug and when I come across them,  boundaries are placed. I also look out for those who say one thing about their life to me but, when in the presence of people they feel are important, talk a totally different game.  And I never forget the old saying, “those who gossip to you, gossip about you.”

6.Manipulators:  Those who spend their time attempting to change the perception or behaviour in others by using deception or underhanded ways. Among the various methods used, for me personally, I have fallen for “the lying or guilting me into doing what they want me to do” method.  

Now on their own, one of these may do not necessarily signal a toxic person or relationship. However mix several together and you are probably on target. Learn the signals and be prepared to set proper boundaries where you have the ability to observe from a distance.  It usually does not take long for true character to reveal itself.  In the end, you may see things in a different light. Until then, guard your heart and mind while keeping your eyes wide open.

Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace.
James 3:16-18

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