Drawing Boundaries with the Boundaryless
Boundaries. If you’re in recovery, you’ve probably heard about them. You’ve been taught how to set boundaries with friends and family members. You’ve been encouraged to surround yourself with people who will love and support you and respect the boundaries you set.
In a perfect world, that’s how it would work: You set boundaries; others respect them. Unfortunately, however, that’s not always the case. You will have people in your life who will cross the lines you’ve drawn. So what can you do to prevent boundaryless people from compromising your recovery?
The Importance of Boundaries in Recovery
As you start on the road to recovery, setting healthy boundaries is key to maintaining success. You need to have a clear sense of self and self-worth, which means knowing where you end and where other people begin. By setting boundaries for yourself, you establish what is your responsibility and what is not, so you can take charge of your life and be accountable for your actions.
By setting boundaries for yourself, you establish what is your responsibility and what is not, so you can take charge of your life and be accountable for your actions.
As you learn to be accountable for your own actions, you will learn that you are not accountable for other people’s actions. Part of gaining a sense of self-worth is realizing that it’s not your job to please others, just like it’s not their job to please you. Learning how to set boundaries in a relationship, or spaces between your needs and others’ needs, will help you maintain mental and emotional stability in recovery.
According to VeryWellHealth.com, other benefits of setting boundaries include:
- Avoiding burnout by doing too much for others
- Reducing resentment toward others who take from you
- Finding balance in your day-to-day life
All of these are important aspects of staying on track in recovery.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries
Setting boundaries for yourself may seem totally foreign to you if you’re coming out of addiction. You may struggle with low self-esteem or an inability to say no, or you may have completely lost your sense of identity to your addiction.
The first step in setting healthy boundaries in recovery is reestablishing your identity, or your sense of self. Who are you as an individual? What do you love? What do you hate? What gives you energy, and what drains you? Take the time to get to know yourself again so you can identify what it is you’re protecting by setting these boundaries.
It’s also important to establish what you need to stay on track in recovery. Identify triggers or things you must say no to in order to maintain your mental and emotional health. Then practice expressing your needs and saying no to the things and people you need to say no to.
When Sticking to Your Boundaries Gets Sticky
While it’s crucial to have people in your life who support your recovery by respecting your boundaries, there will inevitably be people who violate them, intentionally or not. So how can you set boundaries in a relationship with someone who keeps crossing them?
The easy answer is to end the relationship or limit contact with the boundary-crosser. But if you’re setting boundaries with parents, other family members, or coworkers, that may not be possible. Instead, try these tactics to hold your ground:
- Set clear, consistent boundaries
While it’s always important to be clear about the boundaries you’re setting, it’s extra important to be explicit with people who aren’t used to boundaries or aren’t good at respecting them.
- Define the consequence
If there are no consequences for someone crossing a boundary you set, what’s going to keep them from doing it again? Define and communicate the consequence for crossing your boundary, and be consistent with enforcing it.
- Remember your purpose
You’ve set boundaries for your own health and recovery. Remembering this will motivate you to stand firm, even when someone continues to push you.
- Know what you can and can’t control
You can control your boundary, but you can’t control someone else’s behavior. The thing about boundaries is that you are in charge of yours, and others are ultimately only in charge of theirs.
If someone continues to ignore your boundaries no matter how clearly and firmly you enforce them, you may have to make the difficult decision to either accept their behavior or distance yourself from them.
In the end, you can’t control how others will react to your boundaries, including if they choose to violate them. If someone continues to ignore your boundaries no matter how clearly and firmly you enforce them, you may have to make the difficult decision to either accept their behavior or distance yourself from them.
If you find yourself struggling to maintain boundaries in your recovery, you may benefit from talking to a professional counselor or one of our Alumni Outreach Specialists. we can also help you determine if you’d benefit from what we offer at The Meadows Outpatient Center. Reach out today to learn more.