Why boundaries are important for Recovery

Having healthy boundaries is important for our own well-being.  Creating solid boundaries, however, can be challenging even when life is going well. What happens to our boundaries when the wheels fall of the tracks and we find ourselves going through a traumatic situation?  When we are going through a traumatic situation in can be difficult just to get through the day so making the determination of what’s supportive of us may not even be on our radar due to the strong and intense emotions we are feeling.  When we are is emotional distress, rational thinking often goes out the window because our body is in survival mode.


After a serious life interruption last year, I took at long and hard look at what healthy boundaries meant to me during my recovery.  When bad things happen, especially if it is a situation that is on-going, we can feel like we have no control over anything in our life.  It’s the loss of control that can create a sense of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety.  While I was going through my experience and subsequent recovery, I found that creating strong internal and external boundaries gave me the stability I was looking for.  If I wasn’t able to control certain aspects of my life, I certainly could put supportive parameters in place and give myself permission to determine how I would interact with myself and others.  This allowed me to take my life back and gave me the structure I needed to get through my situation.


Understanding our boundaries, or looking at what we need to heal, allows us the opportunity to look within and ask the question “what do I need right now that will support me”?  If we don’t acknowledge our boundaries, it can build resentment, martyrdom, lack of self-esteem, and disharmony within ourselves as well as our relationships with others.  Boundaries allow us to express our needs clearly and when those needs are met, that begins the path to healing.  And it’s important to understand that internal boundaries are as important as external boundaries.


Here are five boundaries to consider when in recovery:


  1. Say no—saying no to others can be difficult but sometimes is necessary if it helps us conserve energy or recharge
  2. Listen to our Internal dialogue—each morning ask your-self, “what do I need today that will support me”?. Is it yoga or meditation? Walking in nature?  Determine what you need then do it.  Commit to, and honor, your self-care regimen
  3. Eliminate negative self-talk–Practice using a mantra or affirmation daily and especially when thoughts about the situation begin to overwhelm you. Give your mind a job so it doesn’t go off into negative internal chatter.
  4. Seek help—if you need support, get it from friends, community, or a trusted therapist
  5. Eliminate triggers—remove permanently or temporarily anything in your control that’s triggering, including people who sap your energy.


Creating boundaries can enhance your resiliency and shorten your recovery time.  They keep us in touch with our heart and authenticity. When that happens, we are well on our way to healing and living our best life.