People can drain the peace out of your day if you let them. Can you think of one person whose presence you could have done without lately—at least for a while? Irritating relationships can make room for the Holy when you keep a few self-care practices in place.
In Part 1 of this discussion, we focused on responding to negative people intrusions in our day. Today we’ll look at healthy boundaries and self-talk when handling the needs of others.
Which of the following people draining situations apply to you?
1. Your boss drops a file full of paperwork on your desk and wants it completed today—along with everything else in your overflowing to-do box.
2. Your teenager is the star attraction in Hormones on Steroids and gives you free tickets for a front row seat.
3. Your sister focuses her Nikon microscope on your life and feels responsible to inform you of everything you are doing wrong and why you need to change—right now.
4. Your good friend is going through a divorce and wants to talk with you every night.
5. Other: _________________________________ Fill in the blank with your latest example of a “people drain.”
All of the draining situations above require your attention, but not your emotional peace. Responsibility, compassion, and respect for others remain necessary to maintain healthy relationships and walk in love. However, the demands of people do not have to dominate your thoughts or time.
One of the difficult things I am learning requires setting aside whatever is bothering me after giving it a certain amount of mental and physical attention. It is not my job to change people, their situations, or their feelings. Nor do I have to get sucked into their emotional drama or expectations.
Let’s review the above statements and see how to respond with healthy self-talk.
1. I will accomplish what I can of the paperwork required of me. However, if it is more than I can reasonably accomplish, I will say so and leave the unfinished paperwork until tomorrow. I will enjoy my evening and not feel guilty or pressured to “bring the job home with me.” I have a life separate from work and I intend to keep it that way.
2. My teenager may currently be difficult to live with, but it will not do either of us any good for me to get emotionally involved in his latest crisis. If I am calmly relying on the Lord, I can give wise counsel as needed or I can listen quietly. I do not have to solve my teenager’s issues, but I can pray and point him in the direction of the One who solves my problems.
3. My sister loves me and for that I am grateful. However, my life is mine, not hers. I am responsible for me. She is not. I will set a time limit to listen to her comments and conclude our time together with, “Thank you for sharing. Your comments are noted and I will review them with the Holy Spirit.”
After I have sincerely prayed, I will follow any directions the Spirit Holy has given me, leave the rest of my sister’s comments with the Lord, and not carry around the conversation in my head.
4. My friend may be going through a very difficult situation, but it is her situation—not mine. I will help her with some of her troubles, although I am not going to give up my family time on a daily basis. It feels good to be needed and I want to be a good Christian, yet I know that only God can be her real source for comfort and wisdom. I will be careful to not take over his job. I will continually pray for her as I guide her towards the Lord.
Learning good mental boundaries helps set limits on what we do with our time and emotional energy. This is one way to maintain the Lord’s peace in our lives and be truly available to others.
How do you separate yourself from people who are draining your peace, yet still need a caring response? What self-talk examples can you add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.
In Him together, Susan Gaddis
This Post Has 7 Comments
Wow – what a list! Given that I’m a CPA and it’s tax season…#1 applies. My son is 15…sign me up for #2 as well. I have a good friend who is a ringer for the sister in #3. My father died last July and I’m now the “responsible party” for my mother who is in a nursing home. But despite all that, or maybe BECAUSE of all that, I can rest in the peace that only Jesus gives. The storms of life are raging all around me, but when I give all these “peace stealing” people and situations to Him, I can survive and even thrive. I think the easiest way to separate myself from those who would steal my peace is to have an eternal perspective and not get too worked up by the temporal and urgent situations that inevitably end up in my lap.
Terrific suggestions, Susan, and so doable. Thanks!
I love your comment on having an eternal perspective, Karen. That is so true! A hundred years from now, these peace stealing moments won’t even be remembered. Thanks for giving us a peek into your life and thoughts.
And Mc — I’m glad you think they are doable. You know I am into things that actually work. Thank goodness this isn’t a formula, but a relationship with the One who lives inside us and talks with us when we are doing our self-talk. He even interrupts sometimes and adds his own comments, which I find end up in holy conversations.
There are people in life that for whatever reason, are toxic in their actions and words. In these situations I have applied Proverbs 22:3 to my life.
A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.
We are to love all, pray for all and judge no one. Yet I still feel there are situations where we need to take refuge when we see danger walking our way.
Amen, Dolly. That is evaluation and not judgment in my book. Jesus told us to not throw our pearls before swine, so we are left to evaluate who is swine, yet not judge them. Confusing, but if done in grace and knowing that “we once were swine too,” we can avoid some unnessary suffering. Thanks for sharing such good advice, Dolly.
Thanks for underscoring relationship with Him in all this. Sure it’s not always easy, and Lord knows I’ve worn the terrain on both sides of the peace-draining exercise, but I’m thankful for the One who causes them to be doable – and even victorious.
Along with His righteousness, it’s unto this humbly stated purpose that bears repeating: “This is one way to maintain the Lord’s peace in our lives and be truly available to others.”
Thanks for this great reminder, Susan. I’ve learned much about this from your classes and material. I used to reel every time my peace shoes were yanked from my feet, and now the self-talk usually starts before the situation gets draining. I am capable of making healthier choices and can assert those choices in a more gracious manner. Sometimes, however, I realize later that my peace is gone, but I can trace back to the situation and identify the “thought-starter” and apply self-talk then. These are life-changing tools!