Have you struggled with perfectionism in your life? Do you constantly seek out the approval or affirmation of those in your community? Boundaries can help you learn to see and fortify the strength and beauty that each of us already holds within us, and eliminate the constant craving for outward approval. Dr. Shannan Crawford, licensed psychologist and CEO of Crawford Clinics, wraps up this month’s conversation on setting boundaries by laying out the role of community in our boundary-setting journeys.
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.
Should you invite others into your boundary setting journey? Should you offer to help others with their own boundary setting?
Ecclesiastes says it’s better that two walk together. If one falls, the other one can pick them back up. I love the sense of doing life in community. I come from a background of a lot of co-dependence and people pleasing. I really wanted to know and get everybody’s approval and acceptance on every decision and every boundary. The Lord said to me, ‘Yes, it’s true, there’s safety in a multitude of counselors, but there’s also safety in seeking first My kingdom and My righteousness, and then trusting Me to add everything.’
There are times when God might want you to really dive into your community and letting people speak into you that way. Or, if you come from a background of a little bit more co-dependence, He might invite you to come to Him first. It’s great to have accountability with others, but don’t neglect going to God first. (I have resources on my website to help you process how to do an internal board meeting.) We want to go to the Lord first and allow the community to minister to us and to give accountability. Then you can start strategically thinking and figuring out who you want to have speaking into your life.
You have to be careful, though. If someone tries to become your Holy Spirit, that’s not a good sign. But if you can go to someone in your community and they ask you hard questions like, ‘I’m hearing it’s hard for you to not talk back to your spouse in an ugly tone. Have you taken it to the Lord and asked Him what in your heart is feeling defensive?’, then you know you are doing it right with having a community. When I have people give me accountability, I’m not necessarily asking them to be the police in my life. I just need them to listen and care and normalize and just get it.
If we don’t do the hard work of building a community that helps us, what I’ve seen is unconsciously we rebel. We will hide and not tell people about our struggles. That’s because there’s a heart issue happening. I like accountability as long as it’s really going after someone’s heart and not just attempting behavior modification. I work with lots of people at the end of their rope. They’ve done all the accountability, all the retreats and the conferences, read the books, and they’ve done all the coaching they can…and it’s not changing the issue in their life. The stubbornness, the pride, the rebellion is just not getting better. If we only work on pruning off the bad fruit from a tree, we’re not really going to the root issues of why those problems keep coming up.
Accountability should ask questions about your heart. When you go into the office and you feel like an imposter and you have a really hard time saying ‘no’ because you want everyone to like you, what part of you is craving something deeper? God is not just after behavior modification. He wants to see your roots changed so that your healthy fruit can abound. That’s the kind of accountability I think is most beneficial.
What is one thought or piece of advice that you want our readers to remember most from everything that we’ve talked about this month?
I think the most important thing to remember is to agree with God and what He says about you. Ignore the internal dictator or the inner critic, constantly critiquing everything you do. You’re a leader. You’re brilliant, you’re beautiful, God loves you, and you have great things in your life. When it feels like your joy stolen, it’s because that inner critic is still constantly monitoring you. That’s called your observing ego. You must learn to combat those thoughts and feelings by affirming to yourself that you really are smart and brilliant, and your mistakes are safe because you’re going to make them.
I grew up with so much inner criticism as part of battling perfectionism, and I made really bad choices. I was addicted to really bad things and I craved the approval of other people because I was not giving approval to myself. And by not giving approval to myself, I was not enabling the presence of God to give approval.
So many times, we try to change our people pleasing by trying to assert confidence, but it really has to start with blessing ourselves. Tell yourself that you will bless the Lord, that you’re worthy and you’re good enough even in your mess. Doing this for yourself opens your capacity to receive blessings from the Lord. We want God to be our meat and potatoes; He’s our sufficiency. People are our ice cream…and we don’t need ice cream every day. You don’t need the approval of other people every day.
I would challenge you to learn how to bless your spirit, how to speak life and identity into yourself so that you’re so powered by what is good and God-focused that if people like us, great, and if they don’t, it’s OK. It might hurt your feelings a little, but it won’t devastate like you like it used to. Use your new boundaries to help you learn, grow, and then keep going. Once you can do that, you can live in the fullness of the life that God has ordained for you.
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.