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What Are Boundaries and How Do I Set Them?

What Are Boundaries?

Boundaries are basically a verbal confirmation of what you will or will not be willing to do or accept from others. Boundaries can be protective of psychological, emotional, or physical needs. Boundaries can vary from emotional to physical, and should be set firmly with no room for the other person to cross the boundary. You can set boundaries with varying severities, the most successful boundaries are held firmly as opposed to a loose or rigid boundary. Setting and maintaining healthy boundaries is the most important way to take care of yourself.

Why Set Them?

Setting and maintaining boundaries is vital for healthy relationships. Setting a firm boundary will protect your mental health, well-being and behavioral health. Setting a healthy boundary is crucial to protecting oneself, and healthy boundaries are often setting the stage for the behavior and treatment you are willing or not willing to accept from others.

A complete lack of boundaries is problematic, as it indicates a lack of identity, self-worth, or values. Lacking boundaries can result in stress, financial strain, wasted time, relationship issues and mental distress. This will negatively disrupt any or all of the aspects in your life. Healthy boundaries will protect the person that you are, shielding you away from the behaviors that are harmful to your well-being.

Knowing What’s in Your Best Interest in Recovery

Addiction treatment should definitely include the knowledge of what boundaries are, how to set them, and how to maintain them. If you are recovering from substance abuse, setting boundaries should become a regular practice for you— as you will be vulnerable to triggers, behaviors, people, places and things, keeping boundaries will protect you.

At Royal Life Centers, we use behavioral therapies, group therapies, and individual therapy to teach the importance of setting boundaries with others. We also use adventure therapy, activity therapy, and equine therapy to treat alcohol addiction or substance use disorder. Any comprehensive treatment program should include education about how to have healthy relationships. No healthy relationship exists without having healthy boundaries.

A treatment center should always have guidance about how to make healthy habits during the recovery process from drugs or alcohol. Boundaries are a way to take control of your life, setting the stage for how you will treat and be treated by others. Setting goals is an important way to better understand the boundaries you will need to set, who you should and should not spend time with, and how you will care for your mental health.

Why Are They Important?

Setting boundaries are important for your mental and emotional health. Boundaries will help to define you, what you will and won’t accept from others, what you expect and do not expect in relationships, and how you will hold others or yourself accountable. You can set short term or long term boundaries that will serve in protecting your state-of-being.

It is important for both our guests and their family members to set healthy boundaries with one another. We aim to make relationships as healthy as possible, and the best way to do that is by setting boundaries and maintaining them. Some examples of healthy familial boundaries could be: “communicate with me directly, instead of asking another family member to pass a message along”;”please ask me if you have a question about me, instead of asking a third-party”;”I would like to communicate with you, but only with subject matter that pertains to the here and now, talking about my past with you can be triggering for me”.

Examples of healthy boundaries include:

Work:
-“let’s keep our personal and professional lives separate”
-“please do not invade my personal space”
-“I treat you with respect, and I expect the same from you”
-“please do not bring up the new episode of _______________, I didn’t see it yet and don’t want to spoil the ending!”

Personal:
-“please don’t bring up any news about _________, they are triggering for me to hear about”
-“please don’t reminisce about the times we got drunk in my presence, it puts me in a bad headspace”
-“please avoid speaking about drugs or alcohol when you’re around me”
-“Sure! You can come over, but I have a responsibility that I need to take care of in an hour and a half”
-“I would like to spend some alone time when I get home from work”
-“I would like for you to consider some of these other places instead of the bar to spend time at”

Family:
-“please don’t read my journals”
-“I would appreciate it if you didn’t call me every day, instead I will call you on _________ at ___pm”
-“please keep my circumstances private”
-“please communicate with me directly, instead of having _______ pass messages along to me”

How Do I Set Them?

It is significant to remember that setting boundaries really doesn’t need an explanation. You do not have to explain why you are creating a boundary if you don’t wish to, you always reserve the right to tell others what you will or will not accept. Setting boundaries also require a consequence for breaking the boundary, make sure you cite a consequence that you are willing to follow through on. If you set a boundary, and do not uphold the consequence of another breaking your boundary, your boundary will be ineffective. Be clear and concise when setting boundaries, to avoid miscommunication.

Example of Boundary and Consequence/ What it Looks Like to Hold a Boundary:

Boundary- “I will call you on Friday at 4pm to update you about my plans”
Consequence- “If you call me before I call you, then I won’t update you until we speak again next Friday”
If the Boundary is Broken- Do not answer any calls before next Friday. When next Friday comes, call and explain that you don’t appreciate the broach of your boundary. Make clear that breaking the boundary again will result in a re-evaluation of the nature of the relationship and future communication.

Reach Out

If you have any further questions about boundary setting or our treatment programs, please feel free to reach out to our addiction specialists at (877)-RECOVERY or (877)-732-6837. Our team is available to take your calls 24/7. Because We Care.

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