Learning how to set and maintain boundaries is a critical part of staying sober. People who deal with addiction have poor boundaries from never fully developing in childhood, or the lines got blurred from being in unhealthy adult relationships. In either case, you’ll find that having strong boundaries supports your sobriety by helping you develop new relationships based upon trust and respect. You’ll need to be clear about what you will and will not accept from yourself and personal relationships to maintain positive mental health throughout your life. As you work through your treatment program, you’ll begin to set clear expectations and find ways to make sure you meet them using these strategies.
Understand the Two Main Types of Boundaries
People tend to think about boundaries as lines they set for other people not to cross. These types of boundaries are considered external. For example, you may decide that you won’t live with someone who brings drugs or alcohol into your house. You might also choose to establish boundaries regarding how someone speaks to you or uses your personal space.
Internal boundaries are also important, especially for people in recovery. These boundaries help you to rebuild your self-respect, which paves the way for staying sober. In the beginning, your primary boundary may be to remain sober one day at a time. Later, you can implement other boundaries regarding self-talk, time management, and other lifestyle habits.
Identify Your Core Values and Priorities for Boundaries in Recovery
In your early recovery from addiction, you may no longer know where your true values lie. This is perfectly normal, and you can identify your priorities by talking about your life with your counselor and the other members of your support team. You might realize that you value honesty over money when you explore why you left a job or decide that you’ve always appreciated loyalty in friendships. Once you know your priorities, you can set up boundaries to uphold them.
Work Through Issues From Your Past In a Treatment Program
People who have endured childhood trauma or experienced abuse in their relationships tend to struggle more with setting boundaries. Recovery programs give you a safe place to process things that happened in your past so that you can begin developing strategies to set better boundaries in the future. Perhaps you need someone to help you recognize your self-worth and that you’re worthy of being treated with respect. You also may need to learn how to manage your guilt about developing an addiction. The healing process from past trauma takes time, but you’ll be able to begin setting healthy boundaries during your early recovery from addiction.
Learn to Communicate Clearly In Recovery Programs
Setting boundaries in relationships is sometimes rigid when you aren’t sure how to tell someone what you need. Remembering that other people can’t read your mind helps you avoid common disagreements, but it’s also essential to learn how to express yourself positively. During group therapy, you can role-play how to say no to someone who makes a request that pushes your boundaries while keeping a calm tone of voice. You can also learn how to bring up complex topics without allowing someone else to treat you with disrespect. Communication is critical for making sure that the people in your life understand what you need and that you won’t accept mistreatment.
Build a Strong Support System With People In Recovery
Spending time with people who understand the importance of boundaries in recovery helps make you feel stronger when you need to stand up for yourself. Although boundaries help to prevent discord in relationships, there will be times when someone makes you question everything you believe. You might need to cut ties with someone who continues to ignore your boundaries or just need a pep talk before you open up a dialogue with your partner or parent. Turning to a sober friend when you need them the most makes it possible to approach reinforcing your boundaries with greater confidence.
Setting Boundaries in Recovery
Setting boundaries in relationships is a constantly evolving process. As you get comfortable with people, you may notice them trying to take advantage of you. When this happens, you may need help figuring out how to reinforce your boundaries. You might also discover that changes in your life require you to redefine your boundaries. This is normal when you begin working, start a new relationship, or become a parent. Turning to a mentor to help you adjust your boundaries in healthy ways makes it possible to continue to grow stronger in your sobriety during times of change.