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Let Go of Control

By: Ann-Marie Loose, MSW, LSW, CAADC, CCS
Director of Family Services

1 Your Role
I want to learn about treatment options for:

2 Basic Information
The Person is:
years old

graduated high school

3 Condition Information
Caron Treatment Centers accepts patients aged 13 years or older. For more information on services available to those 12 and under, please learn more about Caron's Student Assistance Program.
Creating and maintaining boundaries is challenging for most families. Boundaries are frequently, and wrongly, viewed as a way to control others.  If I set the right boundary and say the right thing then others will do as I say and everything will be great.  Simple, right?

For many, past experience indicates that boundaries simply do not work.  Unfortunately, if there is an expectation that they will exert some type of control over others, they are probably doomed to fail. Boundaries are not about control, they do not provide the power to change someone else or their behavior.  They may be perceived as being useless when loved ones do not automatically do what is requested or expected.  When this happens repeatedly, familial relationships are further strained.   It is easy to judge others, to become resentful and to resort to hurtful arguments.  How could someone I love, cause so much pain by such a violation?  Obviously, boundaries do not work!

The simple truth is boundaries will likely be questioned, disputed, challenged and even ignored.   This is not an indication that they are ineffective.  This does not mean there is a lack of love.  It is just a common reality.    Therefore, do not expect boundaries to provide control but rather accept that boundaries will be challenged. 

When violations happen, it is easy to place blame, to point the finger at others.  This leads to ineffective boundaries and resentment.  Rather take responsibility for maintaining the boundary.  It is important to recognize that others’ feelings are not more important than your own.  To honor your feelings, your self-worth and self-care, follow through on the consequences when violations occur.  This is the key to the effectiveness of boundaries.

Boundaries can lead to healthy relationships. They do work.  Let go of the need to control, accept that others are responsible for their behaviors and assume the responsibility for your own well-being.  

Tips for setting and maintaining boundaries:
1.    Be clear, specific and reasonable.  
2.    Identify logical, enforceable consequences if the boundary is violated.  
3.    Clearly communicate both the boundary and the consequences.
4.    Be prepared, expect violations.
5.    Be responsible by enforcing the consequence.