One common challenge that individuals face during the process of addiction recovery is the establishment and maintenance of healthy boundaries.
Healthy boundaries are important for your relationship with yourself and your actions, as well as for your interactions with other people. Being aware of your boundaries and ensuring they are clear and respected can help you transition into your everyday life after your discharge from treatment.
What Do Healthy Boundaries Look Like?
To manage your boundaries, it is essential to understand what healthy boundaries are. Each individual has their perception of what is considered to be a healthy boundary, but not all boundaries are as strong or clear as they need to be.
Examining what boundaries you currently hold is a great start. For example, what boundaries do you have for yourself? Your time management? Your family? Your peers? Your engagement with social media? If you don’t currently have boundaries, it is likely time to set them. Healthy boundaries are essential to make clear what limits are in place to ensure you and the people in your life are respected and comfortable.
Individuals may have various boundaries in place, both physical and emotional. Emotional boundaries may be harder to recognize, which shows the importance of discussing expectations of boundaries with others.
Respecting the Boundaries of Others
When it comes to interpersonal boundaries, it is important to be aware of others’ comfort and requests. For example, if a peer does not like to be hugged or touched in any way when feeling upset, ensure you refrain from those actions when attempting to comfort them. If people like their privacy, work to respect that and give them their necessary space. However, remember that if someone else is comfortable with something that you are not comfortable with, you should not let them cross your boundaries; your preferences and comfort need to be respected too.
Maintaining healthy social boundaries can often be more challenging for individuals with dual diagnoses. As you are working through addiction and a mental health disorder, it can be hard to fully understand the boundaries of others if they have different perceptions than you.
One of the simplest ways to ensure you are respecting the boundaries of others is to ask. If you are unsure if you are acting appropriately or doing something that makes someone feel uncomfortable, politely ask. It is important to not get offended if they tell you they are uncomfortable with something you are doing. Use it as a learning experience and respect their boundaries. Thank them for communicating their boundaries with you so that you can understand and respect them.
Look for Social Cues
Picking up social cues is a great way to improve your boundaries. It may take practice to learn how to recognize social cues, but acquiring this skill can be very useful. For example, if you are walking around the block and see someone walking their dog with both headphones in, they likely are not looking to engage in conversation. It may be tempting to ask to pet their dog or say hello, but if they give you social cues that they are not interested, it is best to keep walking.
It may be more difficult for people with autism to learn to recognize social cues, but most people can improve their ability to do this with an increased level of mindfulness. As you become more aware of your surroundings, you can pick up on social cues more easily and properly socialize with others in a way that everyone feels comfortable. There are various social cues to be aware of, but your responses should begin to come more naturally as you practice being mindful of your surroundings.
It is important to manage your actions to respect not only the boundaries of individuals around you but also the boundaries you have for yourself. During the transitional phase of recovery post-treatment, you will likely need to set clear boundaries regarding substances. To promote your sobriety, you may ask individuals to refrain from using substances in your presence and set a boundary for yourself to leave a situation if there are substances present. Since social interactions have a huge impact on addictive behaviors, having these boundaries in place can help you manage these interactions so that your recovery progress can be maintained.
Following healthy boundaries for yourself is extremely important for the maintenance of sobriety. If you are ever uncomfortable with the way a peer approaches you and you feel that your boundaries are not being respected, talk to them about it and let them know what your boundaries are. This can open the opportunity for you to ask about their boundaries and ensure you are respecting them mutually. If an individual in your life repeatedly disrespects your boundaries, you may need to set new rules for that relationship or disengage from it entirely. A true friend will respect you and your boundaries.
Apply Your Skills
Through your recovery process, you have gained various skills to help you maintain healthy boundaries. As you worked to improve your social skills, coping skills, and conversation skills for discussing sensitive topics with others, you have already begun to develop an understanding of healthy boundaries. Transferring these skills to your post-treatment life is not as much of an adjustment as it may initially seem. While you may be working with different individuals in the outside world who have different boundaries, you already have the skills to help you recognize those boundaries.
If you ever feel concerned with your ability to properly establish or maintain healthy boundaries, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or help.
The ability to maintain healthy boundaries is an important skill to have in society. As you have likely developed various skills to improve your boundaries with others during treatment, it is important to be aware of these skills and apply them in the outside world. To maintain healthy boundaries with others, you have to know and understand what the other person’s boundaries are. If you are unsure, simply ask them and respect the boundaries they discuss with you. Increasing your level of mindfulness and being aware of social cues in your surroundings can help you recognize and maintain good boundaries with strangers and individuals you do not interact with as often. Maintain healthy boundaries for yourself as well, and ensure you are holding yourself accountable for those boundaries. To learn more about maintaining healthy boundaries, reach out to Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960.