Building Better Boundaries (Part 1)

Knowing where you end and the other person begins.

Anger is a misunderstood part of setting boundaries that often gets overlooked. Expressing anger safely and productively is a life energy that brings you closer to others when shared directly, honestly and clearly. If two people are open to the possibility of this type of dynamic communication, it’s an intimacy-builder. Anger doesn’t imply a high-decibel level, but instead requires the willingness to say what you need to say so it doesn’t get bottled up. By saying yes when you want to say yes and no when you want to say no, you clarify boundaries and help others know exactly where you stand.

Because of poor role models regarding anger, most people see it as a destructive force which pushes people away, but ironically, your anger helps others get to know you better. It also protects the inner child who didn’t get protected. How can the little kid in you say yes if you weren’t allowed to say no? The good news is that you get to practice saying no from this point forward. By saying no when you want to say no, you preserve your energy allowing you to say yes when you really mean it.

Within anger there can be love and wisdom, especially when you’re able to express it without being mean or punishing. When you take responsibility for your anger and express it in a non-reactive way, trusted loved ones will generally grow to accept and even respect it, as well. As a result, you and your relationships have the opportunity to become more dimensional.

Disappointing others and being disappointed by others is inevitable. In the past, your need to be liked resulted in poor boundaries and blurry communication, but your contact with others deepens when you share yourself fully without editing. If you’re not used to disappointing others, this will require practice, especially if you’re used to being nice. Saying no when you clearly want to say no may disappoint others, but also builds respect and self-respect. If a loved one truly cares about you, they will eventually understand and comply with your request.

When anger goes unexpressed, sexually compulsive behavior will grow. On the other hand, sharing your anger fully will decrease the likelihood of acting out. Shame also has a parallel effect. If you carry the core belief that your sexual expression is problematic, compulsivity will often accelerate. The more unconditionally-accepting you are with yourself, the more emotionally sober you’ll feel, and on the other hand, avoiding emotions creates inner deadness. So keep this in mind—unexpressed anger and cumulative shame create more vulnerability to out-of-control sexual behaviors.

What would your life look like without blurry boundaries? Emotional resilience. Freedom. Limitless possibilities for love and deeper connection. This chapter of your sexual recovery journey requires tremendous endurance and determination, but it’s well worth it as you reclaim your clarity and inner voice.

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