It’s easy to go through life doing things out of guilt and pressure. A relative will get upset if we don’t show up every time they want. A friend expects us to meet their every demand or they’ll have their feelings hurt. People use control and manipulation to get their way. They expect us to perform, to be there every time they call, to put our life on hold to make sure they’re taken care of. If not, they get sour and try to make you feel guilty. If you’re not careful, you’ll take on this false sense of responsibility thinking that it’s your job to keep them fixed, happy, encouraged, and entertained. But here’s a key: You are not responsible for other people’s happiness. You are responsible for your own happiness. Take that pressure off. Some people won’t deal with their own issues. If you continue to give in, you’ll not have the time and energy for your dreams, and you’ll enable their dysfunction. As long as they have you, they don’t have to change.
You have to set some boundaries. You can be loving, but you have to be strong enough to say, “No, I can’t come running every time you call. I’m not going to let you dump all your problems on me and expect me to fix them.” You have to say, “I’m not going to feel guilty if I won’t meet your demands. I’m not going to live down on myself because I won’t perform up to your standards.” Without healthy boundaries, you won’t have healthy relationships. If they get their feelings hurt or get upset and won’t speak to you, that’s okay. Life is too short to go through it being controlled, doing things out of guilt, thinking if you don’t, you’ll fall out of their good grace. That’s not a friendship; that’s manipulation. They’re not interested in you; they’re interested in what you can do for them. A true friend doesn’t get upset when you say no. They don’t try to pressure you and make you feel guilty so you do what they want.
The apostle Paul says, “I am free in every way from anyone’s control” (1 Corinthians 9:19). That’s my prayer for you…that you’re not going to live controlled by people, manipulated into doing things out of guilt, but that you will live your life free. Now do your part and put some boundaries up. Quit acquiescing to everyone’s demands. Remember, if someone is controlling you, it’s not their fault; it’s yours. You have to take action. Don’t go the next twenty years weighed down in unhealthy relationships, toxic relationships, giving in to unrealistic demands. It’s time to break free of the control. Today can be a turning point.