An essential part of addiction recovery is creating and maintaining healthy boundaries. Having healthy boundaries means establishing limits and clarifying what you are willing to expect from other people and what they can expect from you. Nonexistent boundaries can quickly put you in a position where you feel let down, overwhelmed, or taken advantage of. Sure, it’s easy to discuss setting boundaries, but many still struggle with abiding by them. Have you had boundary issues? Why do you think it’s so hard for us to have boundaries? What makes us get caught up in trying to please others? How do our resentment and anxiety start turning inward as we struggle with our inability to say “no”? Learning to maintain boundaries is a healthy behavior to learn for in recovery and life. Here are some valuable tips to help you set and maintain healthy boundaries.
Types of Boundaries
Setting and maintaining good boundaries — in the workplace, home, or social settings — requires understanding the different types of boundaries.
This includes your personal space, privacy, and body. It involves your comfort level with physical contact, whether sitting next to someone in a booth or receiving a hug or handshake from someone. In an intimate relationship, it would also include public displays of affection such as hand-holding or kissing in a public setting. The earlier you set these boundaries, the more comfortable you will feel.
These guidelines concern your belief system, personal thoughts, and word boundaries. This includes when you decide to share an idea or opinion, and being dismissed, shut down, or belittled by someone. Everyone has a right to their thoughts and opinions, including you. Suppose someone is discussing something that makes you feel uncomfortable. In that case, it’s okay to state you don’t feel comfortable discussing that topic, or you know you both have different opinions, so it’s best not to be discussed. If someone continues to be a boundary violator, you may wish to cut ties with the person.
These are your feelings concerning intimacy. You may feel that sexual comments or touches make you uncomfortable for you. Establishing clear boundaries about what you like or don’t feel comfortable with early on in a romantic relationship is vital to keep communication clear and ensure you are comfortable with the intimacy and no one is crossing the line.
This includes how you manage your money. If you are on a strict budget, you may want to request separate checks when going out with friends. This will help eliminate the stress of going over your budget. Suppose you would not feel comfortable loaning out money or your car. In that case, setting those limits by simply saying, “I don’t loan money or my car out to anyone,” and not even considering the question will make your boundary very clear to the person asking.
This involves your feelings. Set boundaries on what details you feel comfortable sharing, when, and with whom. You may not feel comfortable sharing your feelings about everything with a partner, friend, coworker, or even your therapist. Communicate clearly and effectively that you do not wish to discuss a subject at the moment and move on.
Involves how you spend your time. Setting boundaries regarding your time may be the most challenging boundary to set. We’ve all received invites from friends and family for BBQs, baby showers, 1st birthday, weddings, and more, part of you wants to go, but sometimes you have other things going on that make the event feel more like an obligation which leads to feeling guilty if you choose to decline. Responding to these invitations by saying something like “I’ll try and make it” or “I can stop by, but only for a couple of hours” is an effective way to communicate time boundaries before you get there. If you decide you want to stay longer, then fine, but you’ve already made it clear you can’t stay for the duration of the event, therefore, eliminating some of the stress or guilty feeling that comes with making up an excuse to exit early. Time boundaries also come into play when setting appropriate boundaries at work. If your boss keeps assigning tasks and you cannot complete them all at once, it’s important to be vocal and draw the line with what you can handle within the timeframe so that expectations are clear for both of you.
Setting boundaries is vital for everyone, but it’s crucial for individuals in recovery. It is critical to establish healthy boundaries to maintain your sobriety and protect your mental health and physical wellbeing. If you fail to create and set boundaries, you will allow others to dictate how you feel and what you are willing to accept. Many people struggle with setting and maintaining boundaries, especially those in recovery. Boundaries may have become blurred or nonexistent when you were at the mercy of your addiction for so long. Setting healthy boundaries is critical in creating healthy relationships in recovery.
Important Things to Remember-You Can Be Kind and Still…
1. Have Boundaries
2. Say No to People
3. Have a Different Opinion
4. Make Yourself a Priority
5. Turn Down and Invite
At Avatar Residential Detox Center, we can assist you in establishing healthy boundaries throughout your recovery process and provide you with the skills to maintain these boundaries once you’ve re-entered everyday life. Contact us today at 973-774-7222 to learn more about the programs we offer that can help you discover your path to recovery.