7 Ways Boundaries Help Show Your True Colors

20 April 2017 Written by 

Before recovery work I had never known about boundaries. Everything in my life was enmeshed – meaning that I had no emotional, physical, or spiritual boundaries.

I was the chameleon; I could be whatever you wanted me to be at any given moment. I wanted your approval, so I did what I thought would make you happy and proud of me.

This lack of boundaries was extremely harmful to me. I learned in recovery that I needed to put boundaries in place to protect myself and to define myself. Where did I stop and you begin?

What would I allow in my life or what would I participate in?

At first it felt very strange to put a boundary in place. Later I learned that boundaries are movable and flexible.

I have the prerogative of moving my boundaries as needed to protect myself and keep myself safe. Sometimes I even put myself in “time-out” to protect myself from myself.

I love this list of types of boundaries from Darlene Lancer:

  • Material boundaries determine whether you give or lend things, such as your money, car, clothes, books, food, or toothbrush.
  • Physical boundaries pertain to your personal space, privacy, and body. Do you give a handshake or a hug – to whom and when? How do you feel about loud music, nudity, and locked doors?
  • Mental boundaries apply to your thoughts, values, and opinions. Are you easily suggestible? Do you know what you believe, and can you hold onto your opinions? Can you listen with an open mind to someone else’s opinion without becoming rigid? If you become highly emotional, argumentative, or defensive, you may have weak emotional boundaries.
  • Emotional boundaries distinguish separating your emotions and responsibility for them from someone else’s. It’s like an imaginary line or force field that separates you and others.Healthy boundaries prevent you from giving advice, blaming or accepting blame. They protect you from feeling guilty for someone else’s negative feelings or problems and taking others’ comments personally. High reactivity suggests weak emotional boundaries. Healthy emotional boundaries require clear internal boundaries – knowing your feelings and your responsibilities to yourself and others.
  • Sexual boundaries protect your comfort level with sexual touch and activity – what, where, when, and with whom.
  • Spiritual boundaries relate to your beliefs and experiences in connection with God or a higher power.

Content Originally Published By: Amy T. @

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Amy T.

Raised on a dairy farm in upstate NY, I learned to work hard along with my five siblings. I grew up in a very conservative Mennonite-Amish church which shaped a lot of my fundamental core values and beliefs. After moving to Florida to attend college, I married and became mother to five children. Eventually, my unmanageable life came to a crashing halt and I found my way into an Al-Anon recovery program. Recovery has affected every area of my life and I love sharing the things I am learning with others so that they might also find hope for their own recovery.
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