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Old 09-20-2018, 11:00 AM   #1
lilacsnow
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Default struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

I've had mental health issues for over 20 years, but in the past couple of years since attending a new congregation I've been more stable.

However, lately I have felt that an elder/ leader there has been crossing my boundaries and because I find it difficult to process information quickly enough to respond there and then I am not sure what to do.

For example, yesterday she suggested to me that I could go on prayer walks on my own because I don't get enough exercise and when she asked me about exercise before, I explained that I don't feel comfortable walking out alone. So now I feel doubly guilty about not going out for walks - not only am I not exercising but I am neglecting to pray too!

I know she is well meaning and trying to be helpful, but I am feeling pressured by her. Another example is monetary giving to the congregation - I have been in debt because of cuts in welfare payments but she is saying to still keep giving something.

It has been in my nature to want to please where I can, but I have been feeling a knee jerk reaction of wanting to leave because I don't know how to handle this because basically I am being 'out thought/ out manouvred' if I try and explain where I am coming from or my point of view. It just seems to give her more ammunition to ponder on and for her to come back to me with an even better idea for her to change me.

I know she's doing this with the intention of helping me but I don't think I'm on the same page as her, so to speak, with regard to how I would like to move forwards, and I don't want to run her down because its been my lack of assertiveness that has contributed to this situation.

For example, I'm now volunteering in a job I dislike primarily because I felt pressured and I wanted to do a course purely for enjoyment because I thought it would get my brain working better, and she discouraged me from doing it because she didn't think it would lead to employment.

Can anyone relate to this? I want to say something but not something I regret.

Edit: It's just occurred to me that maybe I ought to have posted in the relationships forum - I wasn't sure....
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Old 09-20-2018, 12:11 PM   #2
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

I'm sorry you're feeling under pressure. I'm assuming you're shy - I've had similar situations in the past. Unfortunately in these cases the only think to do is being honest, but firm, so if you're not interested in doing something just say no. It's hard, but I think it's the best solution.
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Thanks for your reply MickeyCheeky - you're right that I need to practise saying no! Since taking prescription drugs for mental health that seems to have been more difficult to do.
I appreciate your response
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Old 09-20-2018, 02:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

I agree, assertivity in this case is the best solution. I absolutely understand and get how difficult it can be because I'm shy as well and I find it difficult to say no. But perhaps try to view this as an exercise. When you look at the situation, although it looks overwhelming, there's really not much to lose and this isn't a really serious issue in you life, is it? I mean you're not "sinning" in any way, this person is not your family, and you're not doing anything wrong or illegal. So take this like a game, to see how you can practise your communication skills and if something goes wrong nothing that bad is going to happen, right?
At least this is what helps me when I'm anxious about social situations.

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Old 09-20-2018, 03:29 PM   #5
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Thanks for your reply seeker. Im very tired but have been thinking that I'm really not sure where to begin. I know that she is faster than me mentally. Also I don't want to be in the position of having to explain myself again because it seems to be a way of her getting more control by having more personal information about me, if that makes sense.

Edit:I guess what I'm trying to say is that I know I need to plan what to say but I'm struggling to know where to begin because part of me would rather walk away because of the above.

Last edited by lilacsnow; 09-20-2018 at 03:54 PM..
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Old 09-21-2018, 06:11 AM   #6
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Sometimes walking away is the best thing to do. You can choose what's more comfortable or practical for you. Even about the "explaining", you don't have to explain why you won't do what she says. Simply say no, I don't like that idea and that's it. I know it's easier said than done though. Do you have a T with whom you could consult this?
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:05 AM   #7
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Thanks for your reply seeker. I hear what you are saying, its the doing of it that I need to practise I suppose - I don't have a T to talk it over with.

I was thinking that perhaps I could just say, I don't really want to talk about my health etc, could we talk about something else......we tend to be talking on our own over coffee. I think she is meeting me mainly to see how I am - pastorally.
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Old 09-21-2018, 07:52 AM   #8
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Im realising it's now obvious what I need to say but I don't know why I'm struggling so much to actually speak out.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:01 AM   #9
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Itís not her job or any of her business to push you, guilt you, or bully you. Donít let her drive you away from a place you are enjoying and feel good in.

You can keep a distance from her, not give her information to throw in your face, not indulge in conversation with her about these topics, tell her to back off and how you do you and she should do her.

She may think she is helping you, but sheís just bullying you.
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Old 09-21-2018, 08:20 AM   #10
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Default Re: struggling with boundaries with spiritual elder

Thanks for your reply TishaBuv. Yes, I'd rather not meet with her one to one anymore, or at least for a period of time, but she's in the role of an elder so as long as I agree to attend this particular group then I will have to learn to relate with her.
I will have a think through about whether I want to keep attending.
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