Day 5: Strengthen Boundaries

Day 5 of 12 Days of Emotional Sobriety

Having strong emotional boundaries means knowing yourself – where you stop and others start. So many addicts get caught up in ‘emotional contagion’ – a concept that describes how you get sucked into someone else’s mood. Through this process, you merge into an unhealthy symbiosis. Let’s say your spouse comes home after a tough day and although you had a great day and you were feeling happy, as soon as you hear she is in a bad mood, you immediately begin to feel the same. This is different from ’empathy’ which develops from healthy differentiation.

Having strong boundaries means holding on to your truth and getting curious about someone else’s experience, especially when it is different from your own. Contrary to what you may have learned growing up, there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to human beings. While variety may be the spice of life, an inability to tolerate differences, makes life feel unbearable.

Some of us have never contemplated the fact that “no” is a complete sentence. The idea that our value and worth as a friend and/or confidante demands that we be ‘all things to all people’, blurs our boundaries. Life ought to be a choice, not a burden. Make sure you are staying within the bounds of acceptable choices, that support your emotional sobriety.

Tip for Today
Remember a time when you got sucked into someone else’s negative feelings. See yourself holding up a see-through shield that allows you to stay both protected and connected with your own good mood.  Imagine saying to the person, “I’m sorry you are feeling that way.  Do you want to talk about it?” As you imagine the discussion, keep holding the shield and stay connected to your own self, allowing the other person to have their feelings, no matter how uncomfortable they seem.  Next, remember a time when you said ‘yes’ and you meant ‘no’.  Replay the scenario with your shield in place and imagine being true to yourself, with a kind but firm authority. Imagine the other person respecting you for it. Do this with as many examples as you can; feel the inner strength it creates when you build pathways for strong boundaries.

Share this with your friends and family who could benefit from 12 tips to keep you emotionally sober this holiday season. Don’t forget to leave a comment below if this resonates with you or if you have tips of your own you’d like to share. See you tomorrow for tip #6!

Warmly,
 

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