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5 Signs That Your Boundaries are Weak or Broken

Today we are going to talk about something that’s very very very important in the space of recovery, healing, transformation, and it’s this thing that is oftentimes talked about but nobody practices. So my goal is to be able to raise your insight, your awareness of why it’s important in your life and then understand if there’s some signs in your experience that your boundaries are broken. If you’ve heard boundary talks before but you still struggle with setting boundaries then probably continue to listen because there’s something that you missed along the process.

1. You constantly mention what he, she or they have done wrong in the past

You give them guilt trips, you let them know that. “Don’t you know what I’ve done for you? Don’t you know how I’ve sacrificed my life for you?” I’m telling you man, that whole martyr thing is something that you got to look at because if you continue to sacrifice everything you are and all you have for another person you’re just a martyr. And you’re like, “Well, what do you mean? It’s my loved one, it’s my son.” And just because you do that doesn’t make him not your son, or not your daughter at some point. You can’t keep bringing up the past. If you’re not resolved with the past, find out what happened and why you’re not. Maybe go do some counseling, do some writing, do some work on yourself and then make a commitment to stop letting it happen to you. But if the person keeps repeating the past and the future (I’ll share a quote later that will resonate with that), you have weak or broken boundaries if you’re always talking about what they did wrong in the past.

2. You are constantly telling them what to do or warning them what will happen if they don't

Constantly telling someone what to do and then telling that, “Hey but but listen, if you don’t do it this is what’s going to happen.” News flash! Unless your child is 8 years old and they really don’t know what would happen most adults know exactly what happens if they don’t do what they need to do. There is no need to tell them. So when you tell them it’s a form of control. And by the way, whenever we do those kind of things it’s self-regulating our own anxiety. So I had this mom she would go log on to her kids’ Community College portal every semester. And when I say kid, her kid was like 27 or 28 years old. Every semester she would go there, she would study the schedule of classes, she would register for four classes for her son. Now the son has four classes at Community College that he didn’t sign up for, nor agreed to. And usually after week two, he dropped out because the parents said as long as he’s in school we’ll support him. So he would drop out and then they would cause this huge fight for years. And it’s like, “Come on, you know!” And it’s like, “If you don’t do these college classes this is what’s going to happen to you.” He knows. I mean at some point we got to realize our power and what it is and what it isn’t. So if you’re doing things for other people, telling them what to do, telling them how to live their life, just know it’s more of your own stuff and less to do with them.

3. You criticize more frequently than compliment

This is a perspective thing. I think everybody can be criticized including myself and I can criticize everybody. However, it’s a choice because you either look at what someone’s doing wrong or you focus on what they’re doing right. As soon as I see what someone is doing right I immediately let them know. I don’t wait to see them do something wrong and say, “Oh, you could have done this better.” Because by identifying the positive traits and the positive actions and the positive steps that human beings take and make it makes them do more of it. It’s management 101. For years, anytime a staff member did anything positive an email went out. I was always the first one on the email chain saying, “Hey, appreciate you, wonderful job, you’re making a difference!” I believe that type of feedback to people about complimenting them, as long as they’re true and real compliments, goes a lot further than criticizing people, a lot further. And the goal is to always catch it immediately and compliment them immediately, because that’s when people actually know that “hey, all my actions, not just my negative actions have consequences.” Positive actions in life can also have consequences. They just happen to be good ones. Positive reinforcement, positive reinforcement. A sign of weak and broken boundaries is like negative reinforcement. Criticizing them, letting them know what they did wrong. Lift and motivate with positive reinforcement.

4. You give solutions when you haven't been asked

Oh the parents love this one. Like someone opens up to them and before they’re even done talking they’re in problem solving crisis mode. It’s like, “This is what you have to do,” then all the way down. I learned something from a client in the family group. So every Tuesday as you guys know, if you’re ever in person in Orange County, California at Huntington Beach, every Tuesday from 6:30 to 8 we do an in-person family support group. It’s not on Zoom because it’s pretty therapeutic and people share some heavy stuff and I like to honor that but it’s for anyone who firsthand or secondhand has experienced pain as a result of addictions, mental illness, trauma, grief and loss. One of the program participants taught me something. She said when her 12-year-old son starts talking to her she says the following: “Do you want comfort or do you want a solution?” I was like, “Damn, I’m going to use that.” I’ll give her credit a few times and then I’m going to say it was mine. But I just love that so much because sometimes people just want comfort. I can’t tell you how many times clients have come and talked to me saying, “I called my loved one, I called my spouse, I called my partner, I called my parents, and I just wanted to talk to them but they immediately wanted to solve everything.” So do you provide solutions when you weren’t asked? A lot of you do, and again it’s your own anxiety, it’s your own stress, it’s your own inability to deal with unfinished business, or something wrong that forces you, compels you to do that.

5. You cover for them

This is something a lot of codependents have done. They call in sick for work, pick them up, all that kind of stuff, from a bar. I remember when my alcoholism was at its peak, you know 23-24 years old and I would go out, I’d either drink at home with bottles under the bed or I’d go out to a local TGI Fridays, you know. Rest in peace to those restaurants that used to be open a long time ago. I used to go to TGI Fridays and there was a few times my poor mom, at like last call, would come pick me up, or I would find a way home. And the next morning, early in the morning, she would have to drive me to the place so I can pick up my car that was left there the night before. She’s doing that because she was wanting me to be okay but that’s what I mean. You cover for people, you don’t let them go through the natural consequences of their actions. My mom was doing it with really good intentions, not knowing at the time that she’s enabling. But I’ve had parents calling work. So we have a program, an outpatient program – there’s been parents that have called in the counselor or the front office saying, “Hey, my son or daughter is not coming in today because they’re not feeling well.” I’m like, “Your kid’s like 40 years old you know. You probably shouldn’t be the one making this phone call.” “Yeah, but I was worried that they’re not going to call.” “Well, you still probably shouldn’t have made this phone call.” And they just don’t get it. Here’s the thing. They’ve even had talks about boundaries. This is the part that’s baffling. They’ve had people talk to them and teach them about boundaries, yet they pick up the phone and call. Fascinating stuff. 


For parents or people that are struggling with someone that struggles with addiction, the same way that you’ve heard all these talks about boundaries yet you don’t apply them is the same way your loved one hears talks about addiction recovery doesn’t apply them. People are stubborn and you start to implement and utilize these things that you learn if you want to get better. If you don’t it’s not going to happen. It’s really important to know that.

Call Buckeye Recovery Today!

Are you in recovery but not making progress? Recovery is not only possible but attainable, and it all begins with reaching out for assistance. By addressing both addiction and mental health issues, individuals can break free from the cycle of despair and embark on a path to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Contact Buckeye Recovery Network today and initiate your journey to recovery and improved mental health. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to guide and support you every step of the way.

Today is going to be the best day of your life.

Kelsey Gearhart

Director of Business Development

Kelsey carries multiple years of experience working in the substance abuse and mental health treatment field. Her passion for this field comes from her personally knowing recovery from addiction.

Prior to Buckeye she held titles of Recovery Coach, Operations Director, and Admissions Director. Kelsey was brought on at Buckeye Recovery as the Director of Business Development. She has a passion for ensuring every individual gets the help that they need, and does so by developing relationships with other providers.

Kelsey also oversees our women’s sober living environments – The Chadwick House for Women. She is committed to creating a safe, nurturing, and conducive environment for all women that walk through the doors of Chadwick.