Stop your own negative behavior. Ask God to help you identify specific negative attitudes and behaviors in your life that are contributing to a lack of boundaries and the resulting stress. Then decide to stop your destructive patterns and pray for power from the Holy Spirit to each day to replace your unhealthy attitudes and behaviors with healthy ones. Don’t waste time or energy anymore on trying to get the other people in your life to change; that will never work. Instead, focus on simply changing yourself, with God’s help.

Assemble supportive people. Seek the support and encouragement of some caring Christians whom you can trust to help you on your journey to set proper boundaries in your life.

Nip excuses in the bud. Don’t tolerate any more excuses from either yourself (about why you’re not setting boundaries in your life) or other people (about why they want to step over boundaries that you’ve set for them). Ask God to help you stand firm so you can make real and lasting changes in your life. Say “no” clearly and without guilt whenever you sense that you should say “no.” Doing so will give you the freedom to say “yes” to activities that the Holy Spirit convicts you to pursue.

Implement an action plan. Identify specific changes that God is calling you to make, and then do the necessary work to change every day as God leads you step by step. Set clear boundaries with the people in your life – from your husband and children, to your friends and coworkers – and define specific consequences for violating those boundaries. Don’t hesitate to enforce consequences whenever your boundaries are violated.

Trust the voice of the Spirit. Pay attention to how the Holy Spirit speaks to you about boundaries. Listen for the Spirit’s guidance about boundaries every day in prayer, and be sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings in every situation you encounter. In some situations, the Spirit will restrain you from taking action, and in others, the Spirit will urge you to take action move forward.

Yield everything to God. Live to please God alone, and don’t worry about pleasing other people. Let go of everything that holds you back from fulfilling God’s purposes for you, including: unrealistic expectations, negative emotions, and Satan’s lies. Trust God to give you peace in every situation where you set the boundaries He leads you to set.

Adapted from Setting Boundaries for Women: Six Steps to Saying No, Taking Control, and Finding Peace, copyright 2013 by Allison Bottke. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.     

Allison Bottke is the author of Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Childrenand the founder of the SANITY Support Group Network, and international outreach based on the acclaimed Setting Boundaries book series with groups meeting around the world. She has written or edited more than 28 nonfiction and fiction books and is a frequent guest on national radio and TV programs around the United States. Visit her website at: www.SettingBoundariesBooks.com.

Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, is author of the new Christian novel Dream Factory, which is set during Hollywood's golden age. Visit her website at: whitneyhopler.naiwe.com.

Publication date: September 19, 2013