Setting Boundaries without Controlling – Episode 44

Do you struggle with setting boundaries? Does it feel like you are trying to control someone else when you set a boundary? Does your loved one accuse you of trying to control them? Do you have trouble following through with appropriate consequences when your boundaries are violated? Then today’s show is for you. We’re going to talk about setting boundaries without controlling.

Kelli, Spencer, and special guest Jonah shared our experience guided by these questions:

  • What is your understanding of the concept of “boundary”? Why do we want/ need to set boundaries in the first place?
  • Before you came into the program, how did you try to “protect yourself” from others’ actions?
  • How do you determine if your words/ actions are controlling?
    • What is my motivation? Am I trying to protect my own emotional, spiritual, mental or physical serenity or safety? Or am I trying to tell the other person's what to do (or not do)?
    • How am I saying it? Am I setting limits on what I will accept, or am I trying to “cause” a particular outcome? Are my statements “I centered” or “you centered”?
    • How am I specifying the boundary? Is it something that the other person can “see”, or would they have to “read my mind”?
    • Have I set consequences that I can enforce? that I will be willing to enforce?
  • Do you have an experience of your attempt to set boundaries when that was received as controlling?
  • Why is it important to you to set boundaries?

Our topic for next week is Chaos. Why do we (codependents ) create chaos? Why do addicts create chaos? How do we find islands of serenity within chaos? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

We plan to start recording episode 45 at 9:30AM EDT (1330 GMT) on Saturday, October 12. Join us by clicking on “Listen Live” at the top of the page.

Music from the show

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: I Won't Back Down

LCD Soundsystem: I Can Change

The Indigo Girls: You've Got to Show


Other Stuff

We recommend the Recovered podcast episode 445, Grief, Loss, and Recovery. Mark and Anna share openly and honestly their experience living after the death of their son to the disease of addiction.

Ruth suggested that “Shut Up” by the Black-eyed Peas expresses a “Nice example of a non working communication.”


In an interesting coincidence, the On Being podcast has an interview with The Indigo Girls, titled Indigo Girls on Music and Finding God, in Church and Smoky Bars

Barbara sent a bunch of music suggestions:

Heaven's Here on Earth – Tracy Chapman  so much in this song about having hope and faith that things could be better. “love, compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice” this is why i continue to ask for the courage to change the things that I can. i think this video is inspiring

Laughin' With  – Regina Spektor  the line “No one's laughin at God when it's gotten real late and their kid's not back from that party yet” really got to me. That's why i have a homegroup on Friday night. Those were the worst nights of the week for a long time. True Recovery is absolutely contingent on developing a trusting relationship with your own Higher Power and it takes work – blood, sweat and tears. I have found that faith is not cheap or instant, for me or for my HP.

I didn't Know My Own Strength – Whitney Houston –  the whole damn thing. “i was not built to break” the only way through it is to go through it. I swear the setting boundaries experiences – that are most real for me have been just like that ubiquitous metaphor of footsteps in the sand. For some reason, the person i was setting the boundary with believed me even when i sure didnt there might be a better video, i just like Live.

JOY – Bettye Lavette – again you may find a better video, I like live.  in a way it's the cry of the geographic solution but i also think of JOY as a motivation for change for any of us. Growing in Setting boundaries requires commitment and in my experience often things get worse before they get better. Kind of like disciplining a 2-yr old.

God Rests in Reason – Jason Mraz – this is usually a wedding song but i like the Khalil Gibran  in it – real love always involves respect of boundaries

Love Interruption – Jack White — go big or go home

I'm Sensitive – Jewel – we are all everyday angels

And Laura suggested Landslide by Fleetwood Mac.



5 comments on “Setting Boundaries without Controlling – Episode 44

  1. Mark S. says:

    We used to suffer with chaos, now we enjoy it.

  2. Rick B says:

    This episode was extremely helpful to me. Your insights on what happens when we try to set boundaries has literally transformed my whole understanding of appropriate ways to talk about my actions by looking at whether I am trying to manipulate, shame, or control is so totally useful! Your show has kept me sane for months when I had no other resource, but, you’ve handed me a complete tool set to handle the area that trips me up the most – boundaries.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  3. Amy says:

    I really needed this podcast. Boundaries are something I struggle with on a daily basis, at work, with the alcoholic in my life, with friends, and even with family. I have so much fear and doubt in setting boundaries and following through with them. Verbage is everything, and even when you can word it perfectly, it still feels like “control”, then I am blamed for the boundaries. I feel like when it is time for the consequences to be carried out, and they are, there can be even more blame…..and also empty threats. I sighed with all of you when consequences came up (lol) I can soooo relate! How hard, such a hard topic. I hate carrying out the consequences. It can be so difficult to set and reset the boundaries and consequences…. and all the second guessing that come with it can be so frustrating. So thank you for this podcast, I really needed to hear it. I am not alone, I am not the only one who feels this way, that is always so refreshing. I am so thankful for this podcast. XO

  4. Karl says:

    Good Morning All,

    Love you guys and Gals,

    My Name is Karl and GAWD , did I need to here this today. I somehow started with podcast 35 last thursday and I am currently here. I may have to go current and then go to the back ones also. I met my Fiance when I was 14 on a beach in CT, I am a bronx kid. I spent a brief moment in time with her and never saw her again. I would come to find out that in 1990 she lived a mile from my boss in Mesa Arizona, where I later moved. We got divorced within months of each other from our ex spouses and I worked at Scottsdale Culinary about 2 miles from where she lived. In 2010 my landlord showed her a space in the same complex were i lived she turned it down. A few months later a client hurried me out of his place because his beautiful neighbor was on her way home, yeah you guessed it.

    I am a photographer and she is a model, so in 2017 after literally going through hundreds of profiles for models I contacted her for a photoshoot. Almost instantly we got along like life long friends, that had just been apart for a little while and we created beautiful images. She came back for a second shoot and it was then when she I realized that i was the little boy that she had met so many years ago. I asked her how she remembered and she said, you are the same height, and just a few pounds heavier now. It took a few seconds but it came rushing back. We were both in different places with different people but we became great friends. By the fall of that year, I got out of a very abusive relationship with a therapist that I was dating and a few months later started dating someone else. That ended pretty quickly and at that point I decided to take a break from the dating world.

    On April 15 of 2018 I was helping her on a photoshoot and when it was all over we sat down and talked about dating each other. She is in the program and had been for years, I had no clue of what al anon even was. I went to one meeting with her and figured that I would be ok.

    She works her steps almost daily, and a lot of the time I had no idea what she was doing, so I would get defensive and stupid. I did not realize that I needed al anon myself as I was the child of an active parent and abused the hell out of me as a kid.

    Our relationship ended last monday because of two cats. She wanted them, I was pretty sure that I had allergies, so instead of pausing and not taking action, I did the 3 A’s backwards and I left our home and went to my office. She shutdown as she should and would not even talk to me. I went searching online and found your show on iTunes and it somehow took me to Episode 35 and that was exactly where I needed to be. I started talking to therapist and started looking for meetings but with the covid crisis they were all closed. Every podcast that I have done has peeled back a layer to my complex onion.

    I have no idea of what my future holds but I am getting healthy, if this is truly done then that is something that I will have to live with. We are starting to email, so I hope and pray that there is hope.

    The tools that you all are giving me to put in my tool box is something I wish I had 40 years ago. You all are filling up my cup and I know that it will overflow to others. Our story isn’t over I don’t know what it will look like and that is ok as i had to let go of the outcome. I love the music, and when I find one that I think she likes I send them to her.

    I am so grateful for you all and what you all are doing for me.

    Much love and respect!

  5. Marla says:

    Covid isolatation is shining a light on my husband’s alcoholism and my son’s mental illness. I can’t hide from reality without my job to run to. Powerlessness and guilt have turned into depression that’s really started to lay me out. I looked up meetings to help with both situations. After *missing* the first one I was planning on attending last night I was a wreck all night and into the morning. I needed something desperately, and I found this podcast. It was exactly what I needed to help me start doing some work, get out of bed, and face the day with a little more hope. Thanks for that.

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