How to Manage Internal Boundaries in Recovery

Knowing and understanding the principles of boundary setting is key to maintaining sobriety. The boundaries an addict sets for themselves originate from their perception and societal expectations for healthy living. It is also influenced by gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, background and upbringing. More than likely, your boundaries will be shaped by both external and internal factors. This means that even if certain boundaries seem “wrong” or limiting to you, they are serving a purpose at the time. Here are ways to manage internal boundaries in recovery:

Acknowledge that your boundaries come from within

The first step in managing internal boundaries is to admit that you have them. Many people in recovery keep their internal boundaries hidden because they think they will be judged or that people will say something negative about them if they are honest with themselves.  If you struggle to manage your internal boundary, ask three close friends or family members who don’t know your addiction and don’t cause you any trouble to give you feedback on the issue at hand.  You can also ask a professional counselor or therapist for insight.  Your boundaries are your own and don’t have to be anyone else’s.

Develop self-awareness

Becoming more aware of the internal conflicts that come up can help you manage boundaries in recovery successfully by bringing them to your attention so you can deal with them appropriately. This is probably one of the most important steps when learning to manage internal boundaries in recovery because it allows you to separate from destructive behaviors and learn from past mistakes.  By doing so, you can avoid repeating the same mistakes that led to your addiction.

Become comfortable with your inner voice

Dealing with internal conflicts and figuring out what you want is a very personal experience, whether active drug and alcohol use is involved or not. Therefore, it can be really helpful to develop self-awareness and relationship connection skills that allow you to cultivate trust in yourself and others.  The better you can trust your decisions and feelings, the easier it will be to make choices that align with your internal boundaries.

Don’t expect others to change for you

Many people in recovery struggle with “boundary violation,” which occurs when your partner, friends or family members violate or break their boundaries around you because they are trying to help you in your sobriety.  It is important to avoid expecting others to change for you.  Instead, focus on working with your internal boundaries and making them stronger so that others will respect them. For example, if you have a problem with people interrupting you or pestering you to go out and use again, don’t expect someone else to stop doing it.

Instead, develop boundaries with your family or friends who express that you would prefer they respect your boundaries when interacting with you.  Also, if you have an issue with someone abusing drugs around you while you are using, then don’t expect them to stop doing it.  Instead, develop boundaries that tell them that you don’t want any illegal drugs around you and express how unfair it is to say no to your needs.

Use what works for you

Traditionally, internal boundaries have been seen as something that you should set for yourself since they are a healthy way to handle your feelings. This is not always true because there is no one size fits all approach to recovery. The key is to pay attention to what works for you and doesn’t.  Try different things out and see how they make you feel. Boundaries are about learning to respect your own needs and knowing what you want, which leads us back to the first step of becoming self-aware.  Pay attention to if anything you do helps you manage internal boundaries in recovery or if it does not work for you.

Adjust your boundaries as necessary

Sometimes internal boundaries can be so strong that they will exclude you from having meaningful relationships with others no matter how hard you try to reformulate them. This happens when recovery is very strong, or the person has a mental illness or chooses to isolate themselves.  Some people might need to modify the boundaries to maintain healthy sobriety and avoid other problems like depression, anxiety, hallucinations, etc. Are you struggling with internal boundaries in recovery? Worry no more! We are here to help you manage your internal boundaries to live a sober and fulfilling life.  Contact us today at 614-705-0611 to answer any questions you may have or submit an application, and we will help you get the support you need.