Setting Boundaries in Recovery
Healthy boundaries are essential to keeping your mental health in check. If you’re in recovery, it is especially important for you to learn to set healthy boundaries to help you understand your inherent value and the value of your healing process. This can present a challenge for people in recovery, as healthy boundaries tend to take a backseat to other priorities throughout your struggle with addiction. Learning to set healthy boundaries is a fundamental part of a balanced recovery. What does a healthy boundary look like?
What Are Healthy Boundaries?
Boundaries are physical, mental, and emotional limits that people set for themselves to protect their overall well-being. These limits can help you define who you are while also letting others know how you expect to be treated. Healthy boundaries keep us safe from being manipulated or exploited. They help us populate our lives with people who are supportive and respectful. Setting healthy boundaries can give your recovery the chance to progress and flourish.
Boundaries apply to more than just your romantic relationships. It’s important to have healthy boundaries with every person in your life: your children, friends, parents, colleagues, and most of all, yourself. In recovery, having healthy boundaries with yourself can help you regulate your relationship with the person you wish to become. For example, healthy boundaries can cultivate self-discipline, which allows you to practice appropriate behavior, mental and emotional regulation, and impulse control. Setting healthy boundaries for yourself can enable you to follow through on commitments that you make to your highest priorities.
What Makes for a Healthy Boundary?
The purpose of healthy boundaries is to create respect, both from yourself and others. Self-respect is key to a successful recovery. Setting boundaries that generate that respect can help you internalize your worth. You can learn to love and appreciate yourself and invest in your well-being. Some examples of healthy boundaries include:
- Thoughtfully evaluating how your interpersonal relationships affect your recovery
- Maintaining your own identity in a relationship
- Clearly and respectfully expressing your needs
- Maintaining personal beliefs and values despite what others may think
- Treating yourself with respect
- Building relationships that are built on trust and kindness
- Loving and accepting yourself
Why Do We Create Unhealthy Boundaries?
Many people in recovery have had an especially hard time setting boundaries with themselves and others. This issue can go as far back as childhood. Children raised by neglectful parents who fail to model healthy emotional relationships are more likely to lack understanding of the value of healthy boundaries as an adult. On the other end of the spectrum, kids who grow up with strict parents are at risk of becoming overly dependent on others, leading to codependency issues. Examples of unhealthy boundaries can include:
- Impulsive behavior, especially within relationships
- Beginning relationships that are toxic for your recovery
- Self-doubting or belittling yourself
- Ignoring personal values to please or gain acceptance from other people
- Belittling others
- Lack of trust in others
- Forcing personal beliefs on others
- Allowing others to tell you who you should and shouldn’t be
- Making excuses for others who treat you poorly.
Enforcing Healthy Boundaries
Many people set healthy boundaries for themselves and then fail to enforce them. It is equally important to enforce your boundaries as it is to set them; otherwise, they’ll amount to nothing more than a well-intentioned piece of paper. Follow these steps to begin establishing and enforcing healthy boundaries for yourself:
- Know Your Worth. You have the right to your own thoughts, emotions, values, and beliefs. You have the right to express yourself and to let others know how you would like to be treated.
- Identify Sobriety Risk Factors. Write down everything that can jeopardize your sobriety. This can include anything from people, places, and sensations to abstract memories. Be honest and thorough.
- Set Your Boundaries. Once you identify your risk factors, write down your boundaries. Use specific language, such as “I need to cut all ties with …” or “I will not go to this store because it triggers me to buy alcohol.”
- Enforce Your Boundaries. Enforcing your boundaries takes honesty, commitment, and patience. If you feel yourself slipping, take action.
- Remain Accountable. Reach out to your sponsor, family members, or support groups to hold yourself accountable. Your support groups are there for this purpose, so don’t ever think that you are bothering them or that they don’t have time for you. If your support groups start to make you feel this way, it’s time to find a new, healthier group of peers.
- Respect the Boundaries of Others. Just as your boundaries should be respected, make sure to respect other people’s boundaries.
Remember that setting healthy boundaries in recovery is not selfish. Healthy boundaries are vital to your emotional and mental health, your sense of self-worth, and your long-term recovery.
Setting healthy boundaries for yourself is vital to the success of your recovery. Although at times it may feel like you are being selfish for setting boundaries, it’s never your duty to sacrifice your self-worth or self-respect for the priorities of others. Setting healthy boundaries can let others know that your beliefs and needs are important to you. Investing in your self-esteem this way can help keep you on track to practice positive behaviors, combat impulsivity, and follow through on your commitments, all of which are beneficial to a balanced recovery. If you or a loved one are struggling with establishing healthy boundaries and overcoming addiction, reach out to Achieve Concierge today. Our dynamic team is dedicated to helping individuals with their recovery journey. Gain the irreplaceable value of self-respect and move forward in sobriety. Your success is our mission. Call Achieve Concierge today at (858) 221-0344 to make a real change.