The Importance of Setting Boundaries in Recovery

The Importance of Setting Boundaries in Recovery

Setting boundaries as well as recognizing and understanding others’ boundaries is an important teaching of emotional sobriety throughout drug addiction recovery. Without the proper boundaries set, addicts in recovery will not be able to have healthy relationships. Additionally, attaining proper boundaries in recovery allows an addict to be in control of his own life.

Why do Addicts have Unhealthy Boundaries?

There are two reasons for addicts in recovery to have set previously unhealthy relationship boundaries. Both stem from childhood and past family history. The first reason for unhealthy boundaries comes from neglectful guardians. This kind of parents only cares about what others see when they look at their children. They don’t care about the underlying problems their children may be facing. They set no boundaries for their child to follow so they are left with little social teaching. Neglectful parenting leaves room for many childhood problems including boundary issues. Neglected children learn to be independent, and do not seek help from others easily. Avoiding close relationships allows for little emotional output. These children learn to keep their emotions hidden and often grow into addicts that look to drugs or alcohol for a release of these stifled emotions.

The second reason for unhealthy boundaries stems from highly strict and overly cautious parents. This kind of parents set too many boundaries for their children, leaving no room for personal growth. Too little personal space creates dependency problems. Many addicts show characteristics of dependency or have no respect for personal boundaries of others. This is rooted from unhealthy boundaries set during childhood and further develops as an addict.

The Importance of Setting Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Especially during recovery, it is important to set and respect personal boundaries. Boundaries will give an addict the chance to take control of his own life. Those with little or no boundaries allow others to tell them what to do and take advantage of them. Addicts can also learn to express emotions that have been buried by drugs and alcohol when correct boundaries are attained. Along with the helpful benefits to relationships, the addict will learn to be more comfortable with themselves. When healthy boundaries in recovery exist, an addict is able to feel comfortable with their own self.

Examples of Healthy Boundaries in Recovery Include:

  •      Expressing feelings and emotions with others
  •      Respecting the beliefs and opinions of others
  •      Respecting the beliefs and opinion of oneself even when others disagree
  •      Being yourself because of who you are, not what others think you should be
  •      Accepting responsibility for what you say, think, and do at all times

Examples of Unhealthy Boundaries in Recovery Include:

  •      Discouraging the beliefs, opinions, or emotions of others
  •      Forcing own beliefs or opinions onto others
  •      Disregarding own beliefs or opinions because other have encouraged it
  •      Allowing others to interpret who you are and tell you who you should be
  •      Taking responsibility for the emotions and opinions of others

How to Implement Healthy Boundaries in Recovery

Know your boundaries: Keep a recording of all of your most personal beliefs and opinions. These are the boundaries that you will not force upon others and also not let others take away from you. Having a record of what is most important to you will help remind you of your boundaries when you get off track.

Respect yourself: Before asking others to respect your own boundaries, you must first respect yourself. Many addicts self-loathe because of guilt awarded from their addictions. Moving on from the past and gaining self-love will give you a reason to set healthy boundaries for yourself and others around you.

Know your limits: Everyone has a line that others should not cross. Recognize your line and respect the reasons why you put it into place. An example would be to make another aware that you feel disrespected after being cursed or yelled at.

Don’t act rashly: An important part of respecting others’ boundaries is to refrain from passive-aggressive behavior. If someone crosses your limit or utilizes unhealthy boundary behavior think before you react. Harmful words and actions cannot be retracted, but refraining from them altogether can prevent a terrible situation. Be careful how you react when others do not respect your boundaries.

Stand your ground: Instead of letting others disrespect your boundaries, let them know that you will not tolerate it. You can do this without being too aggressive. Politely remind others of your set boundaries but also do not allow them to walk all over you. 

Respect the boundaries of others: If you expect others to respect your boundaries, you must respect theirs in return. You are no more important than any other person, so make sure that you understand and meet the expectations of another’s boundaries.

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