Setting healthy boundaries is an important first step in your recovery, but can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. We first need to get familiar with what boundaries are and which ones are important to you. Boundaries are the physical, emotional, and mental rules and limits you set for yourself and others. This set of rules should be established in the beginning of each relationship to ensure understanding.
The foundation of these boundaries comes from respect, for yourself and for others. You must first learn to respect yourself on this journey before you can expect someone to do the same for you. In time, once this respect is established, your relationships will grow and flourish. These healthy relationships will help motivate you on your journey through recovery.
Boundaries Tell Others How You Want to Be Treated
When beginning to create the boundaries that best suit your needs in the recovery process, you must first know your ‘why’. Identify which values are most important to you, and the principles you have used everyday throughout your life.
Whether these values are kindness, honesty or integrity, setting this tone will allow others to reciprocate these values towards you. Sound familiar? The golden rule was embedded in our minds from a young age, “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Without setting our own boundaries and being vocal about what makes us uncomfortable can put a wedge in our relationships.
Do not be afraid to listen to your gut. Your body will send you subconscious signals when trying to tell your brain that you feel uneasy in a situation. Maybe it’s a clenched jaw or a cold sweat; our body gives us these cues to warn our brains of our discomfort. We must look for these cues so that we can avoid them by communicating what is causing them.
Communicate Your Boundaries Clearly
Just as important as it is to establish and set these new boundaries, communicating them clearly is key. You may find yourself getting frustrated or upset when a boundary is overstepped. It is your responsibility to make others aware of what makes you feel uncomfortable. Steer clear from putting the blame on others when they cross a line, but try opening up conversation about the situation.
Unfortunately, when expressing your limitations and these fine lines that you wish not be crossed, it can feel a bit awkward. During your recovery process you have to teach yourself to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You may find yourself having to explain to others who are unfamiliar with recovery what is considered respectful.
An outsider may feel as if they are walking on eggshells around you, and not knowing the correct things to say. Being open with others and creating a safe space for clear and effective communication will better their understanding of these boundaries.
It’s Okay to Say “No”
Oftentimes, when someone is going through the process of fighting an addiction, the word no is not the easiest response to any question. This minuscule, two letter word can be one of the most important tools you have to fight this addiction. Practice saying it over and over in the mirror if you have to, but get comfortable with it from the get-go. The scary reality is, once leaving recovery you are on your own and will be offered many things.
You will have your support group and loved ones around you to help, but they too can cross over boundaries sometimes. For example, friends and family may offer you a drink at a party so that you don’t feel left out. They may not realize that this is a serious boundary they are about to cross. It is important you answer with a firm no, and help them understand the severity of the situation.
Respect the Boundaries of Others
After all is said and done, we need to have the respect we expect from others, for others. You have to get out of the habit of thinking me,me,me and think of the others around you. Before recovery and finding the help you need, most people only focused on themselves. Never worrying about the people they were affecting around them.
During this journey you will learn how easy it is to get mad and frustrated with the people trying to help you. It is easy to lash out and to put the blame on others. In time, and with the right support around you, it will get easier. You will learn to trust others and give them the respect they deserve.