With all of the work and time and soul-searching that creating boundaries requires, it is understandable that you may start to feel like you’ve got everything figured out and can just push forward on your own. But that’s not the plan God has for boundaries. Dr. Shannan Crawford, licensed psychologist and CEO of Crawford Clinics, shares why boundaries shouldn’t make you self-reliant, but instead should focus you more intently on your Creator and His input for your life.
You can listen to this entire conversation with Dr. Crawford on our podcast, Work, Love, Pray! Listen below or click here to find your preferred listening platform.
The final “step” in setting boundaries is learning to use them to steward your time effectively. Why is this such an important final step?
Somebody will always need you. I love the analogy that you have a jar, and you have big rocks and little rocks that you have to fill the jar with. If you don’t put the big rocks first, then all the little rocks will fill it up and you won’t have room for the big rocks. If you’re constantly ruminating on things like budgets or how to handle that employee issue or marketing or anything that can cloud your mind, it creates mental chatter. So you may be with your family, or on vacation, or in your quiet time, and yet that rumination is constantly going and sabotaging that time. That is like those little rocks intruding on the big rocks in your jar.
You need to start margining. Get in the practice of handing some things over to the Lord to handle. I had to learn how to do this very quickly after becoming a solopreneur. I was a small startup in the very beginning stage of my business and there were (what felt like) a million things that I needed to decide and do. My life was so ruled by the tyranny of the urgent. Eventually, I ended up in a season of decision fatigue. I had all this internal chatter. I couldn’t truly rest or be present anywhere because, internally, I was allowing all the little rocks that felt huge to take over the space of letting the big rocks fill in. So I had to learn to step back and ask God what His strategy for a situation. Nine times out of ten, He didn’t talk to me about strategy first; instead, He talked to me about my heart or the situation, and that totally softened and changed the paradigm.
Having a surrendering conversation like that with God when you start feeling overwhelmed takes away the stress and the urgency of feeling like there’s got to be a right and wrong in every situation. But you will need to learn patience at the same time. You need to be willing to wait until God gives you the best person to work with, or the best employee for that position, or whatever outcome you’d like for your situation. And normally, He’ll delay a little bit because He’s building your trust. He’s fortifying and strengthening you to not just be good human doings, but to walk in constant relationship knowing you are.
Once I get my internal world clear and articulate, and I can say ‘no’ and ‘yes’ to my thoughts, it’s much easier to act where I have external boundaries that align with what I’ve decided is the vision of who I am and what I’m called to do.
Once boundaries are created, are they permanent or should we be open to having to alter boundaries throughout our lives?
1000% we need to be open to our boundaries changing! We want to create boundaries and structure, not self-reliance. If I make a boundary and I say that I’m going to keep this come hell or high water, then I’m still kind of only relying on me. Instead, I should say, this is my boundary, but God, you get to interrupt. We want to be proactive and find out what our big rocks are, but we also want to be able to step back and say, ‘Hey Lord, if you want to interrupt my time, I give you my agenda.’
Many executives have a hard time pausing and taking their spouse’s phone call or text, or responding to their child. People can feel if you’re fully present or not. Know that your family and your team can tell if you’re slowing down and being fully present with them. I could have 12 things to do and if I have a teammate that comes into my office, my brain still wants to be thinking about all the things I need to be doing. And then I feel the Lord say, ‘Spend time with this person and invest in this moment. It’s an interruption, but it’s a kingdom interruption.’
So yes, have the boundaries (internal and external), have a plan, and hold your life open-handed with permission for God to interrupt. Turn off the inner chatter so the people in front of you get the best version of you that they need in that moment.
Dr. Shannan Crawford is a licensed psychologist and the CEO of Crawford Clinics where she and her incredible team of counselors provide innovative psychotherapy services using a holistic Christian approach tailored for individuals, executives, couples and families. She is the host of the podcast Unlock U with Dr. Shannan Crawford.
As the innovator of the Restoring Self-Cohesion (RSC) approach, a hybrid of psychotherapy and faith-based inner-healing models that facilitates deeper healing than talk therapy by identifying and resolving the unconscious roots producing personal, relational, spiritual, and vocational symptoms.
Dr. Crawford weaves RSC into her work as an Executive Coach helping leaders and influencers overcome areas of self-sabotage, imposture-syndrome, procrastination and self-limiting beliefs undermining enjoyment in their calling. As a conference speaker, Dr. Crawford speaks for a variety of audiences on topics such as, emotionally healthy leadership, business, anxiety, trauma, marriage, resolving childhood wounds and traumas etc. She has spoken nationally and internally including Singapore, Indonesia, India, Brazil, and Bangladesh. Dr. Crawford loves serving as an adjunct professor at univeristies such as The King’s University in Southlake, TX.
Passionate to see the end of human trafficking, she serves on the board of untrafficked.org. She is working on a trilogy book project; an allegory fiction adventure that explores the nuances of the internal world through the story of espionage and romance.
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