Personal Boundaries

Boundaries - What are boundaries? Jo huey
If you’ve been affected by an addict you may or may not know about personal boundaries and what they are. I certainly didn’t and it wasn’t until my 30’s that I understood them.

Definition of Personal Boundaries

This is a great definition of what a boundary is, taken from Wikipedia. 

Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits.

Being able to recognise what we will and won’t accept in life isn’t something that a lot of people consider. We just get on with life. It’s only when we face challenges that we may be forced to look at it. Maybe we don’t like how someone speaks to us, or maybe we are just fed up with saying yes.

What makes it hard for us to have personal boundaries?

Because we have lived in an environment where we were probably putting others needs ahead of our own, we’ve learnt that we compromise ourselves for others.
Part of living in an alcoholic home, certainly was in mine was that I didn’t really get to know myself. I had no idea about self-care and things like that.  I certainly didn’t have any rights in the family home, did you? My thoughts and feelings were usually dismissed as rubbish or questionned and told how could I think this or that.
My alcoholic father never taught me about boundaries, possibly because he was busy with his addiction. My mother didn’t have boundaries or understand them so I wasn’t educated about them.
Another factor is that as I got older and with what I’d experienced, I was afraid. If I started to say no to people then it would jeopardise my relationships. Maybe they wouldn’t like me or ask me to go out with them. I was worried they’d abandon me.
It may sound silly but even if I was having a massage I wouldn’t speak up if the pressure was too hard, I just put up with it.  That didn’t feel right or comfortable to me, but I doubted myself.
You may not feel it’s OK to say no, but it is. You do have rights. You may like to read my blog post about it.

Do any of these sound familiar?

  • People tend to take advantage of you
  • You say yes, sometimes without thinking it through
  • You do things you don’t always feel comfortable about
  • You find it hard to speak up and stand up for yourself
  • Do you put up with behaviour from others that you don’t like?
  • Do you take risks and put yourself in unsafe situations?

Your principles

Thinking about you and your life, what principles do you live your life by or want to? What do you want to allow and what do you want to say no to? You’ll have different things that are important in different contexts. Think of: 
  • Material Boundaries – all about your possessions
  • Physical Boundaries – think of things like your personal space, hugs, kissing etc
  • Mental Boundaries – this is to do with your thoughts, opinions and values
  • Emotional Boundaries – know what is your stuff and what is someone else’s (if it’s them moaning about you, it’s likely to be their stuff. If you are struggling with others, it’s likely to be your stuff) – That isn’t to say what they or you did was wrong, but how you or they react to it is owned by the person with the issue
  • Sexual Boundaries – what will you accept and what is outside your level of feeling comfortable
  • Spiritual Boundaries – do you believe in God or a higher power? Is that important to you?

Empowering Yourself with Personal Boundaries

Here are some things you could try if you want to make some changes.
  • Make a list of what’s important to you e.g. being punctual, respected, being valued – focus on what you want rather than what you don’t want for each context. If that’s hard, write what you don’t want first then find the positive opposite
  • Make a list of what’s important in terms of personal boundaries for yourself – so how do you want to respect yourself? Giving yourself time? Saying nice things to yourself? Eating well ?
  • Think of 5 situations recently where you haven’t spoken up about something you didn’t like, what would you like to have said? What would you like to have happen?
  • Look at what stops you standing up and saying no to things. You can’t just tell yourself “I’m going to stay no from now on” and expect it to happen. It may work for some, but generally you need to understand the reason behind it.
  • You may like to prepare some things you can and will say when certain situations arise, then when it happens it’ll be easier (if you feel comfortable saying it)
I do hope you enjoyed this post, feel free to comment and I’d love for your to share the post if you liked it.
You may also like to read my previous post on Boundaries here


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Next Steps

If you’d like to chat then do get in touch, I’m happy to gift you some time. Simply email or call (07732) 403305. 
Remember you aren’t alone and you can always join my Daughters of Alcoholics Facebook group, where other daughters of alcoholics support each other with challenges they experience from the past or present.  You may have lived with an alcoholic in your past, but it’s still impacting you in the present. 
I also run the Two Roads Travelled podcast with my sister, click here to find out more. 

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