When we begin to learn more about ourselves in addiction recovery, we realize the importance of establishing boundaries for ourselves. While boundaries are both necessary and beneficial, it can be especially tricky to create these boundaries with the people who we love and care for, and are closest to us. Many times, we think that setting boundaries with these special people in our lives will be hurtful, and unfortunately, this could be true. However, this does not mean that forming these boundaries is any less vital for you and your loved ones.


Why Are Boundaries in Addiction Recovery Important?

Before recovery, you may have realized that you had an extreme lack of boundaries within your life. This shortage of boundaries occurs usually because you think it will allow you to grow closer to others, or make others happy. While, at the time, this seems beneficial, it actually can lead you to suffer and hurt the very people and relationships that you were attempting to please and strengthen.

Boundaries help ensure your recovery by respecting yourself and your needs. Through them, you are also respecting those around you. To ensure your sobriety, you need to devote a significant amount of time and space for your recovery practices. This may include going to recovery meetings a few nights a week, or even having alone time in the mornings and evenings to journal and recenter. However, in certain circumstances, you may need to be around the people you love less than you previously had been. Perhaps you realize that some people have qualities that are triggering to you, so you need to limit contact with them. Even though you know that establishing these boundaries is essential, it does not make it any less difficult a task to carry out. 


Talk with a Therapist about Boundaries

One way to figure out how to effectively establish boundaries during addiction recovery with those closest to you is to first talk through it with a therapist. Having an outside source look into your situation is incredibly helpful. They can offer a fresh assessment of the situation without any emotional attachment to the people involved. This allows them to pick out key ideas that you want to convey and/or achieve during your future conversations with loved ones. From there, they can help you carefully and thoughtfully choose specific words and phrases to use throughout the conversations. Having someone give you better clarity before going into those stressful situations can ease the anxiety that may be surrounding those circumstances. 

Along with mental clarity, therapists also can offer emotional support for you. When confronting loved ones in your life about implementing potentially painful changes, you may feel very lonely. The loneliness and lack of support may even lead you to question the validity of the boundaries you are trying to establish. While settling for the comfortable patterns of the past is enticing, fighting through these moments to continue in sobriety is much more important. A therapist is especially helpful during these moments because they can be there for you when your loved ones temporarily cannot. During meetings with your therapists, you can openly and safely express every conflicting feeling you may be experiencing. They offer you the time and space to process through all your thoughts and emotions and will give you the encouragement to continue creating these boundaries. Having a therapist’s support is a very effective way to begin forming boundaries with those around you.


Practice Self-Awareness

When engaging in important conversations with people we really care about, it can be incredibly tricky to keep our emotions at bay. To avoid reacting with your emotions, self-awareness is essential. People may feel hurt more easily than normal, thus running the risk of reacting in a disrespectful way. While it would be ideal to be able to control the actions of others during these moments, you can only control yourself. 

When emotionally triggered, your nervous system can become activated in a way that may send your body into a fight-or-flight mode. In this state of being, it is easy to let your body and emotions take control, possibly leading you to say things that you may end up regretting later on. By practicing self-awareness through grounding skills, you can avoid this situation, and also be able to communicate clearly and authentically. Before entering the situation, practicing breathwork and tuning into how your body feels helps to relax your nervous system and remind your body that it is safe. By doing this ahead of time, you can be prepared to return to this practice when feeling triggered during your boundary-setting conversations. Staying in tune to the way your mind and body are feeling during these conversations is extremely beneficial, as it can help you better communicate with your loved ones. 


It is very common during recovery to realize that you need to form boundaries with the people you love most. Although forming these boundaries is valuable to you, this process comes along with many conflicting emotions that can lead to intense stress. However, there are ways that you can subside your anxiety and feel confident going into future conversations. If you need assistance with this process, those of us at Pinelands Recovery Center of Medford will gladly help. Initiating these important conversations comes along with complex feelings that our faculty can help with. We have many programs that can help you learn more about what boundaries are, how to know what boundaries you need, and how to establish them with loved ones. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help, call us today at (877) 557-5372.