Real-Self Care, Chap. 5 -part 2: Real Self-Care Requires Boundaries



This is part 2 of Chapter 5, for the first half, see the link at the bottom of this post. Thanks!
This is a summary of Real Self Care by Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, these are her ideas, I’m just the summarizer…

Silence the Killjoys

After addressing your guilt situation, you need to think about how other people in your life may influence your decision, especially anyone you want to impress, i.e., teachers, people in ministry, family members- people who take a lot of consideration in your thoughts- The Killjoys.

Thinking about how other people perceive you is connected to boundaries. The longer you stay in a mistake marriage, or a bad fit job, the higher the emotional cost if you don’t set a boundary. There is no shortcut for setting boundaries… the longer you let the fear of other people’s judgement or reactions dictate your decisions, the more devastating the destruction is in the long run… You really need to put your flag in the ground and consider, then voice, what are YOUR parameters. If you don’t practice disappointing others with the little things, you’ll end up betraying yourself on the big things, i.e., long-term relationships and employment opportunities.

How to Silence the Killjoys:

  1. Be careful of who you choose to listen to when it comes to boundaries…

(don’t try to get approval for setting a boundary from someone who is not capable of giving it to you.)

  1. Pay attention to your own needs and preferences.

Author Nedra Glover Tawwab, in her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace: The Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, says, " "your boundaries are a reflection of how willing you are to advocate for the life that you want."

Critical Skill: learn how to separate your needs and preferences from the opinions of other people who have a vested interest in your life.

Explore how certain decisions feel- i.e., when observing one group of people who have made certain boundaries in one direction- does it make you feel more open, lighter, eager, and energized? Or does it make you feel tight, dreadful, or nauseous? Listen to how your body feels as your intuition will rarely fail you. The fear you feel when setting boundaries is linked to whether it is emotionally safe to express our truths or if we will be rejected for expressing them. Depending on the first family you came up in, you may have more or less fear when setting boundaries. In my case my parents maintained a highly critical environment, therefore, I have had a difficult time exerting a boundary because it hasn’t felt safe and might create a break in the relationship. To gain my “freedom” I moved to another state.

Families with addiction and trauma (hello?) often lack boundaries. There is usually one person who dictates how the group responds. If a family member tries to set a boundary, if it is not in keeping the the behavior accepted by the group as a whole, that person is ostracized for stepping out of the fold.

Healthy adult relationships should be able to accommodate the needs and preferences for each person. You wind up putting MORE authenticity into your relationships because you are sharing your needs, values, and preferences.

To Practice: Putting the Self back in Self-Care

HOT FACT: The way a person responds to your boundaries tells us more about them than it does about you .

Think about this in terms of navigating through a week with a person struggling with an SUD. I’m sure we’ve all been on the receiving end of a hearty rejection or attempt at negotiation.

Visualize the people in your life who are upset with your boundaries and instead of focusing on their negative feelings-- reflect on what their anger tells you about them. Perspective taking helps give you more space to make decisions that will work for you based on their unique history and situation.

Know Your Three Choices

  1. No

  2. Yes

  3. Negotiation Possible

In this case, negotiation possible means gathering more information: asking questions, reflecting on potential risks/benefits before saying YES or NO

Even though boundaries are not co-created, how the boundary is communicated and solved is a negotiation between people.

When we state a boundary clearly, it helps other people understand how we expect them to behave.

Resentment and rage await women who mistakenly decide it is easier to do more little jobs because it’s easier and faster than to share the work with others. It’s a little power and control trope waiting to trip you up.

Clearly Communicate Your Boundaries

1. Start with low-stakes situations.

  1. Be clear in your language about what you need.

  2. Don’t ask for Permission- don’t say, “Is it ok if…”

  3. Try Not to overexplain- be concise

  4. Use an email if needed as it gives you time to compose your thoughts and lends itself to a more measured response.

  5. It’s ok to be angry at the situation. But, afterward you need to see if there is any little space where you can let go of something on your plate . Consider during a time when you are calm and relaxed if your situation is sustainable in 6-months or a year from now.

  6. Keep a log of your activities for work, home, and personal, and every 3 months decide which are valuable and which are no longer needed

  7. You can only enjoy the NEW things in your life if you’ve cleared out the obligations that no longer serve you.

For part 1 of Chapter 5, visit the earlier post:


Good Afternoon, everyone!!

My SO was released from jail a week ago. It went great the first day or so, but the last few have been horrible. I am trying so hard to be patient, but the anger and resentment is growing. I clearly communicated my boundaries with him. The first was to be honest and I did follow up with the knowledge that slips can and likely will happen and that it is the dishonesty that really gets to me. Three days ago, he was to send me $36 for his portion of the cell phone bill and he was somehow short. I asked him about the $ missing in every which way I could, calmly repeating that a solid relationship starts with honesty and clear communication and that continued for hours. He finally admitted that he had lied and “owed” someone money from before he was incarcerated, but I don’t believe that. I am not sure if he used that day, but his actions as of late are the exact same as if were. I’ve known him for 32 years, so I can clearly tell if he’s using or not and he has appeared sober. But his actions just don’t tell me he’s serious. For instance, he went to bed last night at 10p. We woke up at 640a to take our daughter to school. He went back to bed at 8a until 12p and now it’s 130p and he’s back up sleeping. He tells me that all I do is nag at him, but I’m seriously furious! I’ve got a 7 year old and 20 year old here and my 18 year old returns from college next week so blowing up is not an option. But I really feel as if no matter how many boundaries I clearly state, they won’t be respected and that makes me so sad. I feel stuck!! And the thing is, the more he acts like this while he’s SOBER makes me question whether I want to be with him long term. This whole situation makes me so depressed. I feel like I’m that same shell of a person I was last Spring when I was contemplating suicide. While I’m not at that point yet, I really thought rehab and jail would help and it doesn’t seem to be yet. Maybe someone has some advice. I’m just SO ANGRY!


Thanks @Thinkstet again for your summary! One thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way:

The part I don’t like about this statement is “how we expect them to behave” because it puts expectations, or outcomes, on them. But boundaries are not about them. They’re about us. I think a truer statement would be:

When we state a boundary clearly, it helps other people understand the behaviors we’re willing to tolerate/accept.

@laurenjess75 - thanks for jumping in here. Those early days of recovery are so tough, when things feel they should be getting better but we still find ourselves wondering and waiting.

It’s tough to set boundaries around honesty and trust, especially when trust has been so damaged. I wonder if you are able to be more specific with your boundary as it relates to finances. For example: “I will not pay for the cell phone bill on my own. If you are unable to pay for your portion, then we can’t share a bill anymore.” The boundary there would be separating your finances. What do you think?


Your boundary statement is more exact than that in book by my way of thinking, too.