How to have boundaries in your life
I also thought that there were certain people I couldn’t have boundaries with, such as family members. Actually, you can. I had a particularly difficult relationship with one family member. I was never able to say ‘no’ and always felt frustrated and resentful towards them. When I learnt to set boundaries I realised that I could only do what I felt capable of doing. If people were hurt or offended by that, then I just had to let them be hurt and offended as I wasn’t responsible for their feelings. As I began to assert my boundaries with family in the shape of ‘No, I can’t spend all weekend with you but I can meet for you lunch next Wednesday’, I found that they adjusted. I accepted that they wanted to see me (compromise) but it was going to be on my terms. When they pushed (and they will) I just politely and firmly repeated my boundary. I didn’t get angry. I expected them to challenge my boundary and was prepared. Over time this got easier and easier. We allow others to violate our boundaries in many different ways.
Here are some examples:
• Not being able to say ‘no’
• Violating personal values or beliefs in order to please others
• When giving to others causes you to suffer
• Letting other people make decisions for you and not speaking up when we don’t like them
• Not standing up for yourself because you’re scared you will offend someone
• Expecting others to know what your needs are and fulfill them automatically
• Expecting someone will take care of you and not helping yourself when you can
• Agreeing with others because it’s easier
• Never letting your real feelings show.
These are just some of the ways we give permission for other people to abuse us. Developing healthy boundaries takes time and practice. But if we begin to implement them into all areas of our lives, we will notice that how we feel changes. Having boundaries is a way for us to feel in control of our feelings rather than at the mercy of others.
Let’s go over what healthy boundaries look like. These are the boundaries we need to adopt and implement in our lives.
• Saying ‘yes’ when you mean it
• Saying ‘no’ when you mean it
• Not over explaining answers
• Not giving unnecessary explanations
• Understanding that you are responsible for your own feelings
• Identifying the causes of your feelings
• Responding with appropriate feelings to appropriate events
• Resisting the urge to ‘rescue’ others
• Being able to ask for help
• Making time for self-care and self-love
• Prioritising what is important to you
• Being with people you choose to be with
• Gracefully removing toxic relationships from your life
• Saving yourself.
Developing boundaries is a process; it will take time. You will make mistakes. That’s OK. Be gentle with yourself and move forward at your own pace. These tools will help you to build a robust defense against drinking again.