top of page

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A form of self-respect to reclaim your life

By Andrea Seydel author or Saving You Is Killing Me:Loving Someone with an Addiction

Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A form of self-respect to reclaim your life

When someone crosses your boundaries, they're telling you,

What you want doesn't matter.

What is Self-Respect?

Self-respect is defined as holding yourself in esteem and believing that you are worthy of being treated well. Having self-respect in a relationship means you hold yourself to your standards and are not pushed beyond these boundaries. When you love someone with an addiction or are in a relationship with someone who has an addiction, chances are your limits have been pushed, and your boundaries are blurred. You may not feel like you have much self-respect. Luckily, self-respect isn't static - which means you can cultivate it, change it, and grow it at any point you're ready to make a change. It's never too late to establish boundaries.

Self-respect is about setting healthy boundaries, and it is even more important when you care about someone who has an addiction. Since we are all responsible for our actions in our own lives, we determine what type of behaviour we allow others to display towards us.

Boundaries are rules or guidelines that you can establish to protect your well-being. It's almost like drawing a line in the sand to ensure that you are not taken advantage of or treated unacceptably. Self-respect involves thinking about what you will allow in your life and what you won't put up with any longer.

Claiming your boundaries and practicing self-respect isn't always easy. You can feel uncomfortable. . One of the most important things to know and realize is that no boundaries you set will solve someone's addiction. Putting boundaries in place is for you and your self-respect.

Practicing self-respect is essential to take back your power. The good news is that there are things that you can do to improve your self-respect.

1. Self-respect is more than just affirming yourself; it is also a belief in yourself and the fact that you are worthy of love, attention, and respect and that you are no less than anyone else.

2. Self-respect is the knowledge that you are respected and that you expect to be treated well and respectfully as a result. Having self-respect helps others to see and treat you with dignity and worth.

What are Boundaries:

Establishing boundaries is about setting limits for acceptable behaviours from those around you. Think of boundaries as limits or rules that we set out for ourselves within relationships. One part of being in a relationship with someone who has an addiction is that your typical boundaries or limits often get overstepped and abused. Boundaries are clear indications of what you desire for yourself and are an act of self-respect. Boundaries are not strict rules that control other people. But instead, they are established for you. We can lovingly set limits and still be kind.

Setting Boundaries:

I think of boundaries as psychological fences between people. Space or barrier that offers protection and that offers guidelines for appropriate behaviours, responsibilities, and actions. When you don't have any boundaries or weak boundaries, you can lose yourself, your freedom, personal space, and self-respect. When you do set boundaries with an addicted loved one, you are not only taking care of yourself but also increasing the chance to seek help. Boundaries will bring you a sense of control and sanity into the often chaotic and seemingly uncontrollable situation. We all have limits. Think of your boundaries like a no trespassing sign. Boundaries can be challenging to set, navigate, and communicate. Boundaries are not a one size fits all kind of thing. Here are some tips to consider when building your boundaries:

Steps for Setting Boundaries:

1. Name your limits and where you stand - What are your rights? An example of your rights might be, "I have the right to say no without feeling guilty." "I have the right to be treated with respect." "I have the right to make my needs as important as others." Knowing your rights is a great place to start when setting boundaries.

2. Tap into your feelings - Determine your values and understand your wants and needs - follow your gut. Boundaries are a personal choice. Your instincts can help you determine when someone is violating your boundaries or when you need to establish new ones. What are your values? Narrow down values to your top 5-10 values from a values list. Reflect on what it is you value and consider making that a part of your boundaries. Who are you? What do you love? Once you get clear on what matters most to you, you can better communicate this to others.

3. Communicating your boundaries - Be direct and assertive with expressing your boundaries. Be firm, but kind. Assertive language is clear and non-negotiable, without blame or threat. Consider using statements like: I feel_____(emotion), when_______ (observation) because I_______(value/need). What I need is___________(boundary).

4. Learn to say "No"- At first, it can feel challenging to say no to somebody that you love who is struggling. Still, with practice, the assertiveness that comes with this boundary setting is empowering. Consider that saying: "no'" is a complete sentence. You can say no without any explanation and see it as a powerful communication method when you feel uncomfortable.

5. Navigating your boundaries - Permit yourself to make mistakes; practice makes perfect. Remember, you cannot change others; you can only change yourself. Boundaries are set for you, not to demand someone else to stop being difficult. Since you can't change other people, change how you deal with them by selecting and adjusting boundaries.

6. Decide consequences ahead of time - Consider past and present. What do you do when someone inevitably tries to push against your boundaries? Decide what the consequences are before your boundaries have been tested: Sit down quietly with yourself and make a list of your limits. Be sure to honour your needs and values when deciding the consequences of when boundaries have been crossed. After presenting your boundaries clearly to people, let your behaviour do the talking. When tested, pushed, and disrespected, make sure you follow through with the consequences you have decided.

7. Boundaries can be flexible and adaptable - Don't beat yourself up when and if boundaries get disrespected, and you cannot follow through on consequences. Simply re-establish new boundaries and, if needed, furtherconsequences. Be gentle with yourself and acknowledge that boundary setting is like a muscle; it takes time to develop. Sometimes you have to go back to the drawing board and remember why you're setting boundaries in the first place. You might say to yourself, "I set boundaries to feel safe" or "Setting boundaries is an act of self-respect."

Some Boundary Examples:

You do not allow drug or alcohol use in your home.

You do not put up with abusive behaviour.

You do not lend or give them money.

You don't allow drug-using friends in the home.

You do not pay off their debts.

If you are not home by midnight, you cannot come home.

You detach when necessary.

You do not lie or cover-up for them.

The reason self-respect is so important is that it is a gift that we give ourselves. It means that we are honouring ourselves and giving ourselves the gift of approval and regard. Having boundaries for every area of your life is the best description of self-respect. When you respect yourself, you know when to say no to what is no longer emotionally, mentally, or physically healthy for you. Gaining self-respect is about learning your worth, knowing your value, and advocating for yourself and your needs.

For further support: Do not hesitate to listen to the SYKM podcast or purchase the book

You can also reach out to Andrea Seydel herself at

Here is the SYKM Podcast link:


bottom of page