What is a toxic person? The answer is simple, a toxic person is someone who has no control over their emotions and thoughts. This person is controlled by subconscious painful memories. You do not have to be fearful of out-of-control people but put your trust in God. The Bible says, God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (see 1 Timothy 1:7). In this post you will learn how to have power, love and a sound mind so you can establish healthy boundaries. In my last post I shared a study that described how felt love improves your well-being. Read it here: Are Your Relationships Improving Your Well-Being?. Being around negative, angry, fearful, and insecure people wear down your well-being.
You can find many articles on how to set-up boundaries for out-of-control people, so I won’t teach that here. I recommend the book called Boundaries by Townsend and Cloud, which I read when I was married to an abusive ex-husband. The instructions in the Boundaries book was very helpful, but I couldn’t set healthy boundaries because I was toxic and out of control myself. Then I read a book called Why Should I Be the First to Change? by Chuck and Nancy Missler, which transformed my victim mentality. In this post, you will learn why and how to change yourself before you can set healthy boundaries.
- Have healthy beliefs about yourself so you can set healthy boundaries.
- Love and respect yourself so you will maintain boundaries.
- Apply the truths in God’s Word to heal your toxic emotions and your toxic relationships.
You cannot change how a person behaves, you can only change yourself. As you change, your unhealthy beliefs, then you can set healthy boundaries on the destructive behavior of others. Boundaries identify the problem, consequences, and the way to reconciliation, which will help the emotionally unhealthy person see their need to change. You can pray for God to intervene and change the person, but God cannot change a person’s will if they do not want to surrender their lives to Him and do what the Bible says.
1. First, you must have healthy beliefs about yourself so you can set healthy boundaries.
Understand why you were attracted to a person who is destructive. For me, I grew up in an abusive home and had no sense of self-worth and no sense of how a healthy person thinks. When I first went to a psychologist who understood abuse and the damage it does to the soul, I learned I had an unhealthy belief that I did not deserve to be loved. And, because I did not love myself, I felt I deserved the abuse. I believed I needed to try harder. But I couldn’t because I was a toxic person as well. As a Christian, I saw my relationships were not loving according to the Bible. The Bible tells us the kind of love we are to have in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (ESV).” Does your life or relationships reflect this kind of healthy love?
Painful memories cause people to be toxic. Painful memories generate unhealthy beliefs and wrong thinking, which shows in what we say and do. To be a healthy, loving person, you need to heal your painful memories and develop healthy beliefs about yourself, others, and even God. As your memories are healed, oppressive spirits are removed, and unhealthy beliefs are transformed by Biblical truth, then you can set healthy boundaries on your behavior and other’s behavior. I explain how to do this in my short book called, Hope for Complete Healing.
2. Love and respect yourself so you will maintain boundaries.
When I began to receive the love of God and learn to love myself, I began to see myself as valuable. I knew I needed to respect myself, but I couldn’t. So, I began to practice putting boundaries on my thoughts and emotions. But because I relied on my will-power, these boundaries only worked to a limited extent. Lasting change came when I healed my painful memories and transformed unhealthy beliefs. Desiring to love and respect myself forced me to seek God to show me my painful memories and to heal them. The Bible says I need to forgive those who sin against me as God has forgiven me. So, as I continued to forgive the unkind people in my life and focused on the things I could be thankful for, I felt peace and joy. When I saw the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, trust, and self-control in my life, then I could respect myself.
The following quote from Eleanore Roosevelt helped me in a hostile work environment, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Meaning, I can choose not to feel inferior by those who do not respect me and say unking things. My psychologist explained that the things my ex-husband was saying about me did not represent the truth or reality. This helped me to not internalize the unkind things my ex-husband said to me. I was able to set a healthy boundary around my heart to not internalize unkind words and actions.
3. Apply the truths in God’s Word to heal your toxic emotions and toxic relationships.
Knowing Biblical truths, help you identify the problem and explain why you must set boundaries. Let them know you value them and the relationship. The person may get angry or anxious and will try to manipulate you or make you feel guilty, but don’t be afraid. Depending on God to help you is the only way to have the power to set boundaries and see lasting change. Be accountable to an older person who knows the truth of God’s Word and is secure enough to point out your wrong thinking.
Recently, I had to establish a separation boundary with a person I thought was my friend but who did not respect or honor me. This was hard to do because I thought I could help her. Helping hurting people is not a bad thing if they submit to God’s work in their hearts and minds and obey Him. Feeling the need to support and be loyal to unloving people makes a person co-dependent to that person. You can read many articles about co-dependency, so I will not cover that hot topic.
You can read how I trusted the promises of God during my divorce and custody battle. Read Trust God to Keep His Promises
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