5. Knowing & Living in Our Limits


Here we’ll cover:

  1. What are Limits?
  2. Why are Limits useful?
  3. Am I living beyond my Limits?
  4. Know my Limits
  5. Action: Set a Limit

1. What are limits?

Limits are our personal edges, the thresholds that get crossed when we can’t effectively give or sustain more.

We all have limits, or breaking points, and it’s helpful to get acquainted with them so that we have the power and choice to change course before reaching them.

2. Why are limits useful?

Knowing your limits are game changing because while you can’t control another person’s behavior, you can learn to notice what’s coming, how you’re feeling about it, and take an action that is in your control before a situation gets messy or messier.

Understanding your limits gives you power to no longer live at the effect of someone else’s actions. You get to live by choices instead of reactions.

Here’s an example of reaction vs. choice:

Breaking point: He spends so much money on cocaine, I can’t stop worrying about our finances, and I have a stomach ache all the time.

Braking point: If I got a separate bank account, I could at least protect my income from going toward his habit.

3. Am I living beyond my limits?

Here are just a few questions to use as a measuring stick.

  1. Have you said or done things in the moment you later regretted?

  2. Have you ever acted in a way that doesn’t line up with how you see yourself?

  3. Do you sometimes get tense or feel frustrated when dealing with your loved one?

  4. Do you feel mentally or physically not okay?

If you answer yes to any of these, you may be living beyond your limits.

4. Know my limits

Choose one of the questions from above that you responded to with a yes. Backtrack in your mind to the conversation or events leading up to it. Consider where, early on, you could have taken a different route that would have prevented you from being pushed beyond your limit.

5. Action: Set a limit

Now, reflect on that same scenario and consider specific ways to help you avoid the same or similar situations in the future. Choose now to honor your breaking point before you reach it.

“Living with the limits you set requires conviction in their validity”

-Beyond Addiction


I really feel mentally and physically not okay. My anxiety levels are so high that I find it difficult to fall asleep at night, to make decisions, and just to do basic housekeeping chores. I’m so obsessed with worry about my loved one and how I can best help him that I am not living well myself. Thank you for this article on knowing and living our limits. It is freeing for me to not have guilt if I don’t go visit my addicted son when I need a break.