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Your family members are typically individuals who care for you and love you no matter what. Due to this unconditional love, they do all they can to help you along your recovery journey. While this is admirable and appreciated, sometimes it is not the most helpful for your specific needs.

Dysfunctional Dynamics Within Families

No family is perfect, unfortunately. Even though you love your family, and they love you, it is imperative to acknowledge the imperfections within your family’s dynamics. Doing so can help you significantly boost your recovery and strengthen your relationships with those in your family. 

A common problem experienced in many families is a severe lack of boundaries. While this may not sound particularly detrimental, over time, it can have harmful effects on you and others in your family. For example, your family may have a lack of boundaries when it comes to topics of conversation, such as:

  • Romantic relationships
  • Your personal health
  • Your past behaviors involving substances
  • Your conversations with other members of the family
  • Your financial status
  • Your friendships
  • The things you talk about in therapy or treatment
  • Things you do in your private time
  • Who you text or call
  • Questions about your recovery journey

Being in familial dynamics where essentially “anything goes” can cause you to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in certain ways. Feeling unsafe in recovery is incredibly dangerous and can put you at risk of relapsing. Not everything in your family needs or even should be discussed. Privacy must always be respected no matter what. Even though your family members may have good intentions, this lack of boundaries can be extremely damaging. They may inquire about different aspects of your life with the motive to ensure that you are healthy and doing well in recovery. Little do they know that such inquiries can actually be triggering for you. 

When your internal boundaries are being crossed without your family’s realization, this can lead you to develop resentment towards your family members. Building resentment over time usually leads to passive-aggressive comments that may offend your family members and cause them to react defensively towards you. In order to save yourself and your family members from unnecessary arguments and disputes, forming boundaries is essential. 

How to Begin Setting Boundaries With Your Family

Just because your family may struggle with not having boundaries does not mean that healthy changes cannot occur. Although you cannot change your family’s behaviors, you can instill boundaries for yourself to ensure that all of your needs get met.

Identify Your Needs

Before creating your own boundaries, you should first identify your needs when it comes to your family members. Some examples of these needs can include the following:

  • A significant amount of private time per day
  • Not talking about triggering topics such as past behaviors, substances, and what you discuss in treatment
  • Not being around substances
  • Not being yelled at or talked down to
  • Private relationships outside of the family

Once you can identify what your needs are, you can begin to see how and why they are not being met within your family. Perhaps you need alone time at night after dinner, but your family members constantly come to you with various needs of their own during that time. This would then be why you are not getting that particular need met.

Have a Thoughtful Conversation With Your Family

Instead of talking to your family immediately, it is advisable to first plan what you will say to them and how you will say it. Start first by saying what your needs are in order for you to continue in your recovery. Explain that you need these things because they help you stay centered and prepare for the challenges of recovery. When planning out these things, make sure you use thoughtful word choices. For example, Make sure to use “I” statements so as to avoid any interpretation of blame. 

You can say things like:

  • “In order to maintain my inner peace, I need privacy after 5pm.”
  • “Because substances are particularly triggering for me and my sobriety, I cannot be in areas or situations where substances are present.”
  • “Discussing my past behaviors is simply something I am not ready to do yet. Therefore, I cannot discuss such topics for the time being.”

Once you communicate these needs, you can begin to openly discuss ways in which you can ensure that these needs get met. It can be helpful to have some ideas in mind ahead of time to have a starting point for your family members. Throughout this conversation, always try to remain calm, open, and respectful. This can help facilitate healthy communication between your and your loved ones.

Even though you love your family and they love you, there can be troublesome dynamics within your family that can compromise your recovery and sobriety. In order to prioritize your well-being, setting boundaries with your family members is vital. To do this, consider your needs, plan out what you are going to say, and then calmly approach your family members and begin communicating your boundaries with them. These conversations can be difficult when they involve people you love and care about. Therefore, you may need some assistance with discussing your boundaries with your loved ones. Those of us at West Coast Recovery Centers are here to help you facilitate respectful and effective communication. It is vital that you have your needs met in recovery, and we can sit down with you and your family and explain more about your needs. Call today at (760) 492-6509.

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