I’ve been finding out that the way my sponsor explained boundaries to me is not very typical, but it certainly works really well for me.
Someone in an online group recently pointed out that a boundary that had been mentioned was actually a rule. It was along the lines of, “You may not x while y, and if you do, I will z.” I’m so used to everyone’s boundaries being expressed differently that I totally didn’t notice the poster had posted a rule. So glad the commenter said something.
My first sponsor said that a boundary is a deal I make with myself to take care of me. It comes in the form of, “If x happens, then I will y.”
The way to apply it is to think of 3-5 things that are most likely to happen. If I think of every single thing that might happen, I get drawn into futurizing, and that’s no good, so 5 is the limit for now.
For each thing that might happen, I think of an appropriate way to take care of myself in that situation. I might even give myself alternatives, or set up escalating boundaries.
- If my mom criticizes me on the phone, I will:
- Say, “Gotta go, Mom. Love you. Bye!” and hang up. Or,
- Ask her how her peach trees are. Or,
- Ask her to hang on a second, I need a drink of water. And then get one.
- If someone keeps interrupting me at a meeting, I will:
- The first time, say, “Hang on, I’m not done.”
- The second time, stand up to speak.
- The third time, leave the room.
- If the other adults in the house don’t have a job by the end of next month, I will:
- Get an apartment and move myself and my kids out. And
- I will also stop paying for the house.