Healthy Boundaries Vs. Weak Boundaries
Healthy boundaries are integral to fulfilling relationships and happy lives. Unfortunately, many of us – especially those of us in recovery – don’t learn the required skills to set and maintain boundaries. In fact, unhealthy boundaries were likely contributed to many of our problems, whether it was from abuse, codependent parenting, or a host of other issues. And even now, after the drugs and alcohol are gone, those shaky boundaries can be the source of stress, financial trouble, and poor mental health. If we’re going to be happy, healthy, and sober, this is a skill we need to learn and here’s a start.
It’s best to start at the beginning and in our case, that means going back to the early days of Western civilization and the Socratic maxim to “know thyself.” After all, you’re going to have a difficult time enforcing healthy boundaries if you don’t know where your boundaries are. That means getting in touch with yourself and learning who you are, now that you’ve left drugs and alcohol behind. It difficult, messy work and, if we’re being honest here, it will take you the rest of your life. However, don’t let that dissuade you – it’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Work On Those Blind Spots
While it’s true that no one knows you the way you know yourself, there is a corollary to this truth. Your first-person perspective also prevents you from seeing yourself as others see you. This means you have plenty of blind spots when it comes to the hows and whys of your interactions with the world. A good therapist can walk you through the issues of your past and present and determine what your needs are. This will go a long way in helping you determine where your boundaries need to be. Your therapist will also have strategies for dealing with people who push your boundaries. This is difficult work that you’re doing and it doesn’t have to be done alone.
Stick With It!
Now that you’ve got the insights and the strategies, it’s time to put them into action. I might as well warn you upfront: your first attempts at setting boundaries are going to feel strange. Your brain doesn’t like to change and will do what it can to maintain the status quo. Practice and repetition, though, will get you past it. Also, you might want to consider starting small and working your way up. You’re probably not ready for a big discussion with a codependent family member, so try starting with friends. The next time you’re tired and don’t feel like going out, let them know! It’s a relatively low stakes way to start setting healthy boundaries.
Learning how to set and maintain healthy boundaries is just one of the skills our clients learn at Ocean Recovery. We also offer individual therapy and counseling, group sessions, nutritional therapy, exercise, and much more. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, eating, or co-occurring disorders, please consider giving us a call today. We have been successfully treating clients since 2002. Reach out now and start building your foundation for success.