When you were in active addiction, boundaries were blurred or nonexistent. The lack of boundaries in your life allowed others to manipulate, abuse and take advantage of you and even put you in harm’s way. This also led to codependent relationships, which continued to feed your addiction.
Where Do Boundary Issues Come From?
Your issues with boundaries come from your past. You may have grown up where boundaries were strict and harsh. This could lead to an inability to express your feelings or to keep everyone at arm’s length. Having no boundaries will lead to you and others being enmeshed. When this happens, your roles are interchangeable and blurred and you will not establish your sense of identity. As you get older, your relationships mirror those of the past and history begins to repeat itself. As you fall into the same patterns, you increase your risk of experiencing depression or anxiety and may fall into drugs and alcohol to help cope.
Why Are Boundaries Important?
Establishing boundaries in your life is important, especially in recovery. By setting boundaries, you no longer allow others to take advantage of you and you begin to find your voice and learn how to use it. Your communication with others improves as you express your thoughts and feelings. Healthy boundaries lead to healthy relationships with people who have your best interests in mind, support and respect you and are willing to work with you. An added benefit is that you begin to establish your sense of self.
What Are Healthy and Unhealthy Boundaries?
Knowing the difference between healthy and unhealthy boundaries is important to having a good relationship that benefits your life and recovery. Here are some examples of healthy and unhealthy boundaries.
- Encouraging sharing feelings and thoughts
- Honoring your personal values and beliefs even if others may not agree with them
- Respecting others
- Taking responsibility for all that you do or say
- Taking full ownership and responsibility in defining yourself
- Telling someone else how to think or feel
- Sacrificing your personal values and beliefs to please someone else
- Forcing your advice or beliefs on others and pressuring them to follow your advice or think the same
- Allowing someone else to define you and dictate your actions
- Taking responsibility for someone else’s feelings
4 Steps for Creating Healthy Boundaries
When you set your boundaries, it’s important to realize your needs are just as important as the other person’s needs. Working together to reach a compromise will help you set healthy boundaries and a healthy relationship. The steps listed below can help you establish this foundation.
Create a personal bill of rights: The first thing you need to do is to define your feelings, values and beliefs and let the other person know how you want to be treated. This will empower you and will help you get used to being assertive in your communication.
Set limits: Stating your limits is helpful in letting the other person know how far they can go. An example of a limit is stating that you want to be spoken to respectfully and do not want to be put down or screamed at.
Be assertive: If you feel that someone is ignoring the set boundaries, you must speak up. Being assertive is walking a fine line between being aggressive and being too passive. It’s important to know the difference. You don’t want to blame others, lash out or be rude, but you also don’t want to be walking on eggshells and be a pushover. Being assertive is being polite yet firm about your stance. Be clear about what isn’t working for you and keep communication open.
Respect other people’s boundaries: Don’t forget that you’re not the only one in a relationship. The other person’s boundaries are just as important as yours, even if they are different than yours.
Setting boundaries is an essential part of the recovery process and is something that is learned when you enter an addiction treatment center. This will lead to a life of healthy relationships and an assertive “you.”
At Stepping Stone Center, you learn about skills that will help you in your recovery and throughout life. Call Stepping Stone Center at 800-237-3150 and start living a healthy life free of drugs and alcohol.
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