Unfortunately, many of us fail to recognize the signs of addiction until it is too late. As addictive behaviors begin to take over our loved ones, we may attempt to “lay down the law”, or make idle threats. Sadly that may help you feel better in the moment but offers little in the way of a long-term solution to a situation growing out of control.
Each time you allow your boundary to be crossed you are creating a powerful dynamic in your relationship that only serves to perpetuate the addict’s destructive behaviors. This leads to a cycle of threats and promises and allows the addiction to get the upper hand, as it becomes the frame for your relationship. Addicts quickly learn that boundaries don’t really exist, and, as a result your self-esteem and self worth erode right along with them.
Boundaries are an important part of life, whether you are an addict or not, they are a personal set of guidelines as to what you are willing to tolerate or accept in your life from others. Until you find the courage needed to stand by your words, you will allow others to continue to take advantage of you and loose yourself in the process.
The following are four important steps you can follow when setting healthy boundaries:
1. Respect yourself and your own boundaries
If you find people are not respecting your boundaries, it is because you are allowing it. Despite the fact you may have stated your boundaries and the consequences for crossing them if you fail to follow through you are teaching those in your life to disrespect your boundaries, because you clearly don’t respect yourself.
2. Say what you mean and mean what you say
How many times have you followed through on your threats? Do you make these threats in the hope of scaring those in your life straight? Addicts are generally very adept at adopting behaviors that get results and more often then not they know exactly how to behave and act to placate you in the moment, knowing you will never follow through. The bottom line here is say what you mean and mean what you say, follow through with your actions each and every time. You are sending a valuable lesson here actions have consequences. Do not loose yourself for the sake of someone else that is to high a price to pay, you are worth more despite how you feel right now.
3. Work on building up your own self-esteem
This is hard for everyone but it is important to realize self esteem starts and ends with you. Much like the recovering addict you must replace negative behaviors with positive ones, ones that nurture your body, mind and spirit. When you are confronted by future challenges you won’t be so willing to give up all you have fought for as you and you alone have achieved this feeling of self worth.
4. Seek out help. Fortunately you are not alone there are all manner of resources from which seek help (like this online community for one). Talk to a recovery care specialist as they are the most qualified to help you establish your boundaries with those who are struggling with addictions in your life.
In the end addictions truly affect everyone; it is possibly one of the most devastating of conditions as it tends to
echo for many generations. All of us in the wake of addiction must find it within ourselves to make ourselves strong for those who cannot or will not if we are to have any hope of putting a stop to the ongoing cycle of addiction. Hold the line.