At some point, you may have realized it’s not just the problems and challenging people surrounding you that rob your life of joy. Like everyone, you have been wounded and have developed patterns that limit your ability to be your best self and experience lasting peace. Internal challenges, such as anger, guilt, and unforgiveness, require your attention, or you end up overwhelmed and hurting others unnecessarily. It’s hard to be good to others when you’re hurting inside.
Ironically, the most natural way of addressing troubling emotions actually makes things worse. Many well-meaning people seek to suppress or criticize aspects of themselves they don’t like. The most common response to unwanted impulses is to insist, I need to get over it, or I’ve got to stop thinking that way. In our experience as counselors, we’ve found that this approach rarely works.
Boundaries for Your Soul presents another way. A different means to the same end. A slower way to get where you want to go—faster. It’s the “Come . . . let us reason together approach” (Isa. 1:18 KJV). It involves understanding and even befriending the hurting parts of your soul.
This suggestion may seem counterintuitive. Befriend my anger and fear? you may be thinking. That’s the last thing I want to do. Consider this: Jesus taught us to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44). “Pray for those who persecute you,” he said. When you throw a dinner party, stretch yourself and invite the unpopular people (Luke 14:12–14). Mature love is extending hospitality—even toward the parts of your soul that are angry, fearful, anxious, or sad.
As you listen to them, you’ll discover that these emotions represent distinct parts of your soul that need your care. You’ll realize that some are too close to the essential you, and some are too far away. You’ll get to know overbearing aspects of yourself you wish would give you some space, as well as disowned, denied, and lost facets of your personality hiding in the shadows. All of these parts of you, whether too near or too far, exist for a reason. They all need for you to create healthy boundaries with them so they can relate to you from a comfortable distance. Your emotional well-being depends on it, as does that of those you love.