How Important Are Boundaries?
Today I want to cover the importance of boundaries. The topic came to mind when a brother in the program brought up a fantastic question. He said:
“Hey, J.K. I’m trying to change my attitude towards boundaries. I’ve made decent progress, like understanding that boundaries are an investment in myself. I would like to hear your view on boundaries and what questions I could ask myself to get more perspective on their importance, not just for rebooting but life in general.”
The simplest definition of boundaries is the point where something ends and another thing begins. They are something you establish to keep yourself from acting out or engaging in behaviors that are not aligned with your values. We have boundaries in our reboot because they protect us from detrimental consequences.
For example, many men have an issue with slipping or relapsing when they go to bed at night. To avoid slipping before falling asleep, these men set a boundary of not having their phones in their bedrooms. They leave it charging in the living room, kitchen, or some other room where they cannot access it while they’re in bed.
While I do see where this brother is coming from when he says boundaries are an investment in himself, I still see them more as protection. Boundaries require humility. They require vulnerability and a willingness to admit there are things outside of your control. Any man who constantly violates his boundaries is a man who hasn’t fully admitted his lack of control over his behavior with porn, sex, and masturbation.
Another important thing to recognize about boundaries is that they are not set in stone. You should adapt your boundaries to your circumstances as you grow in your reboot. You’re not going to adhere to the same set of rules and guidelines when you have a year or more in the Porn Addiction Recovery – Reboot program that you did when you first arrived.
Single men in the group often set a boundary of no dating during the first few weeks or months of ending their out-of-control behavior. If they kept this boundary for the rest of their lives, though, it would be a miserable existence. It’s a crucial part of the early stages for men who struggle with their sexual behavior, but eventually, they need to get back out there and start learning to establish intimacy with a woman again. Their boundaries shift as they make progress and grow.
If these men had no boundaries around dating during their first few stages, they could very easily find themselves in more trouble than when they started. They might end up on a merry-go-round of quitting and relapsing without making any significant progress. But once they admit their lack of control and then set and stick to a boundary, they can make notable steps forward in their reboot. Once they’ve mastered the first few stages, then they can adjust their boundaries accordingly.
Another great example of adapting boundaries over time is social media. There is so much soft-core pornography on social media that it can feel impossible to avoid at times. Despite Instagram’s strict policies, there are plenty of pictures, videos, and accounts that leave almost nothing to the imagination. Setting a hard no-social media boundary is crucial for almost every man when he first shows up to the Porn Reboot program.
However, it’s also almost impossible to live life without some sort of social media engagement. Even joining the Porn Reboot Facebook group requires a Facebook account, after all. There are dozens of benefits to social media but we often misuse the tool when we’re deep in our addiction. As we progress through the process of rewiring our brains, though, we can learn to engage in a healthy way.
Social media helps you stay in touch with friends who move away and family members who aren’t close by. It empowers you to build businesses and promote products. You shouldn’t bar yourself from these benefits once you’ve started to control your out-of-control behavior. Your boundaries surrounding social media can shift as you rewire your brain.
However, it’s easy to take my point and apply it to pornography. You might think that after you’ve gone a certain length of time without engaging in out-of-control behavior you can do so in moderation. Maybe you tell yourself you can watch porn once a week, but soon enough you’re back in the throes of your addiction and often worse off than you were before. I see it happen with brothers all the time.
Some boundaries can change with time. Others should remain regardless of where you’re at in your reboot. This isn’t an area where you want to operate in isolation, though. Talking with accountability partners is a great way to determine when it’s time to reconsider an existing boundary or whether it’s one you should hold onto for a bit longer.
It’s incredible to think I have a YouTube channel today when I know for a fact that I would have slipped on YouTube in the past. I was the sort of person who went to bars, clubs, and lounges and relapsed when I came home unsuccessful and alone, but today I can enter these places and come home without a thought in my mind. Rarely do I go somewhere like that, but I know I can if I need to.
The same applies to you, too. As you progress in your reboot you’ll be amazed at the things you become capable of doing without slipping or relapsing. You have an entire life ahead of you, brother, and setting and respecting your boundaries are an important part of the process.