I have a confession. I really suck at setting boundaries. I also suspect that I am not alone in this flaw. Unfortunately, boundaries are sometimes a good thing when it comes to wellness and recovery.
Some might think of boundaries as walls, but walls aren’t quite a good synonym for boundaries. The reason that walls aren’t a good synonym is because walls are solid. They keep everything out. Isolation can be just as troubling for one’s recovery as not having any boundaries at all. So no, walls aren’t the same as boundaries. At the other end of the spectrum are boundaries that are too porous. Like draining pasta with a strainer whose holes are too large, boundaries that are too porous simply don’t work.
Good boundaries should be somewhere in the middle. They should let some people in, some activities in, while keeping other people out. And they should be flexible. The boundaries you have with your family shouldn’t be the same boundaries you have with your co-workers for example.
The problem I have with boundaries is that my anxiety lies and tells me that if I set boundaries of any kind, it will push people away. With those who are close to me, this leads me to over commit, promising to do activities that I know I might not be able to do, all because I am afraid of saying no. Never mind the fact that these people have already proved repeatedly that they care about me and they will be there for me, my learned behavior involves boundaries that simply suck.
Yet in addition to knowing that boundaries are important, even with those closest to me, I also know that better boundaries lead to better recovery, which is why it has been a priority of my recovery, especially lately. However, like any new skill, it takes practice.
Part of my reasoning for putting this post up today is to hold myself accountable to keep practicing. Another reason for posting this though is because as I said at the beginning of the post, I suspect that I am not the only one who struggles with setting boundaries. So if boundary setting is something you have a hard time with as well, know that you are not alone. Also know that it is never too late to start working on setting better boundaries. The benefits of better recoveries will always be waiting for you on the other side.