Setting boundaries and expectations is an important part of building healthy relationships, especially when it comes to addiction recovery. Boundaries are the limits we set for ourselves in order to protect our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Expectations are the standards we set for ourselves and others in terms of behavior, communication, and interactions. Here are some strategies for setting boundaries and expectations, along with examples:
- Be Clear and Direct: When setting boundaries and expectations, it’s important to be clear and direct about what you need and expect from others. Use “I” statements to express your feelings and needs, and avoid blaming or attacking others. For example, “I need to be sober in order to stay healthy, so I’m not comfortable being around alcohol” is more effective than “You’re always drinking and it’s not fair to me.”
- Set Consequences: Setting consequences for violating boundaries and expectations is important to reinforce their importance. Let others know what will happen if they cross the line, and stick to those consequences if necessary. For example, “If you show up to our dinner party drunk, I will ask you to leave” is a clear consequence for violating a boundary.
- Start Small: Setting boundaries and expectations can be challenging, so it’s important to start small and build up over time. Begin with small boundaries and expectations and work your way up to bigger ones as you feel more comfortable.
- Be Consistent: Consistency is key when setting boundaries and expectations. Stick to your boundaries and expectations even when it’s difficult, and avoid making exceptions or changing the rules to accommodate others.
- Check In: Regularly check in with yourself and others to make sure that boundaries and expectations are being respected. Use this as an opportunity to communicate any changes or updates to your boundaries and expectations.
Examples of Boundaries:
- “I will not engage in conversations about substance use or allow drugs or alcohol in my home.”
- “I need to take time for myself every day, so I will not be available for phone calls or texts between 9 pm and 7 am.”
- “I will not lend you money until you are sober for at least 6 months.”
Examples of Expectations:
- “I expect everyone in my home to be sober and respectful of my recovery.”
- “I expect to be treated with respect and not be subjected to verbal abuse.”
- “I expect you to be on time for our meetings and show up prepared.”
In conclusion, setting boundaries and expectations is important for maintaining healthy relationships and promoting addiction recovery. By being clear and direct, setting consequences, starting small, being consistent, and checking in regularly, individuals can establish and maintain healthy boundaries and expectations. Examples of boundaries and expectations might include not engaging in conversations about substance use, taking time for oneself, and expecting respectful behavior.