5 boundaries that will save your life - Ivy Tolchinsky
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5 boundaries that will save your life

Setting boundaries doesn’t make you mean. Creating boundaries doesn’t make you a selfish person. Doing so keeps you safe, secure and healthy. Boundaries separate you from other people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours. And they can literally save your life. Unfortunately, many addicts and alcoholics have underlying codependency issues which hamper them from setting appropriate boundaries. They can sometimes become so enmeshed with others they lose sight of where they end and the other person begins.

The ability to set healthy boundaries is not something you’re born with. It’s something you learn growing up by watching and being a part of your family. Early childhood experiences of abuse and neglect have left codependents with low self-esteem and have hindered them from placing healthy limits on their relationships as adults.

Sounds discouraging, but the good news is you can unlearn and relearn healthier ways to deal with people. In recovery, you can learn how to protect yourself. But first you need to identify the different types boundaries vital to your happiness and development in sobriety.

Be the boss of your boundaries

Physical: Keeping physically safe from actual physical harm or potential harm. These boundaries are not only concerning who or how someone can touch you but also about also where you shouldn’t go. In early sobriety this may be; not passing by your favorite liquor store or bar or not allowing certain people into your home. Are there people or places you shouldn’t be associating with? How are you dealing with people who get too close to you?

Emotional: Keeping safe from actual or potential verbal, non-verbal and psychological harm. This is about how you want people to treat you. It’s also about not taking on other people’s feelings for them or being responsible for their emotional state. What kind of emotional treatment will you allow or not? Do you give unsolicited advice or try to “fix” or rescue others?

Intellectual: Keeping intellectually safe from ideas and values that are not based on your own rational information and evidence. This is about being able to discern information and not necessarily believe everything you hear or even see. In our information-driven world, it’s important to have healthy intellectual boundaries. Who and what are your go-to sources that you can trust? Can you form your own opinion and think your own thoughts with confidence?

Financial/Material: Keeping safe to do whatever you desire with your money and your possessions in a healthy way. This is about not allowing others to manipulate you out of your material belongings and your finances. It’s also about not manipulating others by giving gifts or money to secure their attention or love. Are you lending money to untrustworthy people? Do you give more than people ask or go overboard with presents?

Spiritual: Keeping spiritually safe from actions and potential actions that would go against your core values and beliefs. This is about not being shamed or bullied about your racial or religious beliefs, ideas about money, gender/ sexual orientation beliefs, values about work, family and your personal belief or not in a Higher Power. Are you able to stand up for your beliefs? Do you feel free to express your values, life purpose and talents?

Because codependents have difficulty setting healthy boundaries they use defense mechanisms such as blaming, judging, rationalizing, justifying, denial, and anger to deal with unacceptable behaviour without even being aware of it. This only keeps their relationships dysfunctional and unsatisfying.

Becoming aware of your boundary issues is the first step toward emotional sobriety. Examine your answers to the questions asked after boundaries described above. Where do you need to become more vigilant? Where are you most vulnerable?

If you are ready to take your power back but you need some help in setting healthy limits contact Ivy to Schedule your 30-minute complimentary session.




  • Lorna Groethe
    Posted at 00:58h, 12 December Reply

    I really liked the way you broke this down onto different aspects of what it means to set ‘boundaries’ I also like the explications of how we ended up allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of in the first place
    . We allowed it through Unhealthy learned behavior.. But we are responsible for changing it by making new healthy choices.
    I Loved this article. Very clear cut and to the point… Thank you for sharing these great possibilities/ideas for my recovery…

    • ivytolchinsky
      Posted at 01:25h, 12 December Reply

      Thanks Lorna, I really appreciate your feedback. It’s wonderful when we can take responsibility for our choices by setting healthy boundaries

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