Establishing healthy boundaries with the people in your life are vital on your healing journey. We all have toxic people in our lives. With a cancer diagnosis, it’s past time to evaluate your relationships. Keep your loving relationships close to you and weed out the toxic relationships. This may sound harsh but your life is on the line and people’s energy could be toxic to your healing.

In this process, your goal is to remember and to revive your authentic self. So often, we lose our authentic self when we are trying to keep up with “the Joneses”, being Super Mom, or just trying to keep up with life. When we lose ourself with relationships that have gone sour, our authentic self is suppressed. Who are you? Who do you want to spend your time with?

In order to heal, you need to honor your authentic self. Easier said than done when we are living by other people’s standards. Quite often, the stereotypical cancer patient has suppressed emotions. This is why in Eastern Asia the majority of doctors treat the emotions first. Quite often, patients are holding on to past resentments that have festered and grown into a DIS-EASE. Chances are the disease is cancer.

Cancer is thought to be a DIS-EASE of suppressed emotions and harbored resentment. People tend to bring about the best and the worst in us. If people in our lives are bringing out the worst, we tend to hide these emotions which leads to resentment…which blazes the path to various diseases and cancer. It is important to release all anger, resentment, and emotions that are suppressing your immune system and preventing your body, mind, spirit from healing.

Instead, if you keep the people in your life that bring out the best in you…great healing can and will happen. Anger, resentment and suppressed emotions dissolve because they are replaced with love. Your immune system is not stressed and can therefore heal with the greatest healing force in the universe…love.

Think of establishing healthy boundaries as rings on a bull’s eye. The actual bull’s eye are the people that you resonate with and you want close in your life. As the circles become farther from the bull’s eye, the people are also more removed and other boundaries are set.

I practice this exercise often with my high school students. My students will meet with me upset about a friend that is not treating them well. We discuss creating a list of what characteristics they want in a friend. They are encouraged to write down these characteristics and reflect on this list when a friendship seems off.

One of my many roles as a school counselor is to help my students establish boundaries for each circle on the bull’s eye rings. I do not set these boundaries. Instead, I ask questions so the person can think and figure out where they want each relationship on their bull’s eye circle.

As we discuss relationships in the student’s life, I ask them: Do you want this person as a close friend where you share your deepest secrets? Do they belong on a ring that is not on the bull’s eye but you would like them a part of your life to go to a movie or out to eat? Or, do they belong on the outer tertiary where you only say “hello?” Or, are they outside of the entire ring where you do not even acknowledge them?

It is up to you to establish where each relationship in your life falls on the bull’s eye and the rings. I encourage you to review your relationships in your life. Place them on the bull’s eye, on a ring or out of your circle entirely. 

This bull’s eye and ring can and will change throughout your life. You will meet people you need in your life for what you may be going through. They serve their purpose on your journey and then you may outgrow them. When you do outgrow the relationship, send the person love and goodwill as they are sent on their way. People tend to come and go in life. This is ok.

On the other hand, you will meet people that will have a positive impact on your life that grows into life-long friendships. You may not have seen this person for 10 years but when you meet, you are able to pick up where you left off. These are bull’s eye friendships. Ones you want to keep close to you and keep in your bull’s eye.

Bull’s eye relationships are positive, supportive, and loving. There is no animosity, jealousy, or spreading rumors. They sincerely and joyfully congratulate you when good things go your way.

The bible verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4-13, comes to mind when thinking of bull’s eye relationships:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

(https://biblehub.com/niv/1_corinthians/13.htm)

What is most important through this cycle of relationships is establishing healthy boundaries. People are held accountable and start being kinder as people will not tolerate other’s bad behavior. When people are exhibiting poor behavior, they are moved to the outside of someone’s circle.

We are social beings and do not want to be on the outside of someone’s circle. We crave to be loved and accepted. When we are isolated, we become anxious, depressed and fill our body, mind, spirit with unhealthy vices. They may have seeped into our lives bringing toxic attitudes and energy. You may not even know it.

Who’s In Your Room?

When I was making the long commute home after my immune booster in southern Minnesota, I listened to a podcast with Dr. Ivan Misner. He has a doctorate and PhD in Organizational Behavior from the University of Southern California and has been practicing for over 34 years. He shared it is vital to have healthy boundaries. We may have erected boundaries but are they healthy?

Dr. Misner wrote a book entitled, Who’s in Your Room? The Secret to Creating Your Best Life. In his book, Dr. Misner shares a metaphor of having a room where you invite people in. There is a doorman or guardian standing guard to only let those people in that resonate with you. The power of the doorman holds you to a higher standard. The doorman does not let the riff-raff in that will drag you down and prevent or slow down your healing. This doorman protects you! 

This room only has one door with no exit. Whoever enters your room and whatever baggage they bring will always be in your room.

Dr. Misner stresses the concept: The quality of your life depends upon who’s in your room.

This concept is so important that I am going to borrow Dr. Misner’s exact words to hit this concept home,

“The person you become and whether or not you are happy and successful depends on who’s in your room. Really.” 

I would like to expand on this thought…Who is in your room will depend on how well you heal from your DIS-EASE.

Dr. Misner shares that sometimes people are in your room that you cannot remove. Once they are in your room…they will always be in your room…baggage and all. 

Select your visitors well. If you choose the wrong people and activities, they will pollute your room and your life. 

Dr. Misner shares the following techniques for protecting yourself from those that may have become toxic while in your room:

  • Set time and place where to meet. This sets up the meeting place on your terms and gives a time frame. For example, my friend called me about a toxic friend she felt like she had to meet with as this friend kept wanting to come to her lake house for the weekend. My friend didn’t feel comfortable inviting her negativity into her house with her family…and she was healing from breast cancer. Instead, my friend created a lunch date when she was in Minneapolis for her cancer treatment. She set up the time and the place and how long she could meet for. This set up protection for her and maintained a respectful boundary.
  • Set up boundary with a simple, yet, loving statement. “I love you. I welcome you in my life.  But, your baggage needs to stay out.” Dr. Misner shared an example of a son calling his mom every Sunday for an hour. It got to the point he couldn’t take these phone calls anymore with her complaining and her gossiping. He set up a boundary with her sharing that if she started complaining or talking about someone he would say, ”Have a good week. I will call you next Sunday.” Then, he would end the call. This happened two weeks in a row and then ended. They started having healthy boundaries and conversations.

The hardest part of these techniques is mustering the courage to hold the individual accountable. But, it is well worth it to stand up for yourself to erect necessary boundaries.

Affirm: I honor my authentic self by setting healthy boundaries with my relationships.

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