Insight for the Journey: Setting Boundaries and Limits Part I

Insight for the Journey: Setting Boundaries and Limits Part I

Setting boundaries and living within limits can be difficult. To restore damaged relationships or establish new ones, it is essential to set personal limits and stick to them, refusing to compromise your boundaries. This is easy when people think your boundaries make sense, but that rarely happens. Your child, spouse, or family member will likely not be happy with how your new boundaries affect them. Today, I will discuss five guidelines to help you wisely establish and use boundaries. 

1. Set limits for yourself and stick to them. This simple plan sharpens your skill and ability to live within limits and expect others to do the same. Practice this daily. 

2. Think long-term. In order to have comfort in the moment, it is tempting to use short-term solutions that ease the immediate pain. This usually just kicks the real problem down the road. Long-term solutions allow pain to occur now but bring hope for change and a stop to the repeated mistakes of short-term and short-sighted solutions. 

3. Accept the consequences. It is important to accept the fact that if you no longer enable or rescue your loved one, consequences of their decisions and actions will still fall on you. It is a difficult choice to endure the pain of someone else’s poor actions. For example, your spouse gets drunk and expects you to lie for them. You worry that if the truth is known, they would lose their job and you will lose the family’s income. It is tempting to lie to avoid the consequences. Telling the truth, while difficult, does not create the consequences, rather it’s the substance use behavior that generates problems. When you set a boundary, you are taking responsibility for your own thoughts, feelings, behavior, attitudes, and beliefs. 

4. Recognize that some consequences linger. Poor choices and flawed decisions can have lasting consequences. If you ate spoiled food yesterday, you will likely be sick today and tomorrow. Just as there are consequences for eating rotten food, there are inevitable outcomes for other poor choices. Understanding this will help you endure the consequences of what your loved one decided to think, believe, and do. There may be long-term consequences for them, you, and the relationship between you. It is tempting to rescue them because the aftermath, especially in the long-term, seems too difficult to face. Understanding and being willing to live with the consequences allows you to develop strong boundaries and live within them. 

5. Manage your own character. Maintaining good boundaries is hard if you are more interested in controlling other people than controlling yourself. By refusing to let someone else’s behavior determine your mood, you are free to set goals to improve your own attitude and character. Resist the urge to try to change or fix someone else. It is important to examine your own motives and maintain your mood and disposition. 

Setting firm boundaries allows you to be responsible to someone without being responsible for their behavior or the consequences that follow. Boundary development takes practice. Learn what you can and be persistent. 

Recovery is a Journey. Enjoy the Ride!

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