How Do I Say What I Mean and Mean What I Say (Without Being Mean)?

Setting boundaries is an essential part of having healthy relationships in recovery. Whether you are the one trying to help someone to get sober or you are trying to stay sober, without boundaries, every stitch of effort to maintain relations will eventually fail. Boundaries are guidelines made to show others how to treat you and let them know what you stand for. Chaos can ensue very quickly without establishing mutual respect to navigate the way for healthy and considerate relationships. Learning how to say what you mean, while meaning what you say, without being mean is a great concept to grasp to build meaningful relationships.

Change Your Inflection

If you want to be taken seriously when trying to relay something, try to keep the inflection in your voice in check. Becoming overly emotional or appearing aggressive only pushes people away before they get a chance to see what you are all about, especially if they have seen you under the influence. Merely changing the tone of how you say things can make a huge difference in how you are received.

Think Before You Speak

One of the characteristics of someone who suffers from an addiction to drugs and alcohol is impulsivity. Even letting words fly out of your mouth without comprehending what you are saying can be a problem. A pause is a great action to take before you blurt out something that could be taken entirely differently than what you meant to say. Before you speak, you should use this handy tool to minimize negative and critical words. Stop and ask yourself if what you are saying needs to be said, does it need to be said by you, or does it need to be said right now? By using this measure to stop and think before you speak, you can keep your words positive and encouraging.  

Be Clear and Concise

Talking in circles just confuses people. Your goal should be to communicate without being belligerent to get your point across. Prepare yourself for conversations that need to be explicit in what you are trying to convey. Instead of leaving room for someone to automatically assume that you are trying to get something or are trying to denounce them, you can think about what your focus is beforehand. You will want to leave them with a clear, thoughtful message rather than having them scratch their head with some confusion about what just happened.  

Know What You Want

Indecisiveness can take away your effectiveness in what you are trying to say to someone. Decide what your goal is in the conversation that you are having so you can make sure that you meet it. Are you setting a boundary? Do you need to find out some information that will be beneficial for your recovery? Are you inviting someone somewhere without having hurt feelings if they cannot join you? Limiting your expectations is also key so that you do not start speaking through resentment. You can decide ahead of time that you will stay focused on your recovery principles to carry you through.

Value the Opinions of Others

Humans are often guilty of talking more than they listen. You can be a blessing to others by giving value to what others think. Listening is a great tool because you can hear things that will provide you answers to questions you may have or suggestions for improving your life. A Higher Power is everywhere and may use someone you know to speak directly to you if you give them a chance to talk and actually listen to what they have to say. Plus, taking a break from talking will provide you with some peace of mind. 

Ask Important Questions 

Recovery means that you remain teachable. If you had all the answers to live life, you indeed would not have received the consequences you did from your drinking and using drugs. Do not be afraid to admit that you do not know everything. Better yet, do not be scared to ask questions that are on your mind. The more you question, the better answers you will get to enhance your recovery that much more. As you ask questions to others, you are also showing that you are open-minded and willing to improve your current situation. 

Make Sure You are Ready

When you find yourself still getting snippy or being a know-it-all, take a mental break and get yourself in check. Although you need to be prepared with words and a goal, the most important preparation you can make is to stay spiritually fit to talk to others. Being spiritually fit means that you are trying to achieve emotional sobriety to be sober, considerate, and helpful no matter what anyone says or does. Taking all of this into consideration means that others will no longer have to walk around on eggshells around you, and they will be better for having been around you. 

As you start taking action in your recovery to stay sober, healthy boundaries can be instrumental in learning to love yourself as an attempt to get along with others or find they have no business being in your life at all. Making decisions because you are willing to protect your well-being shows how strong you are and how well your recovery is working. Boundaries allow you to become empowered to control your life and feel more connected to recovery through balanced relationships. Boundaries are not about building walls around you for protection. Boundaries permit you to choose the direction your life will go in recovery with another tool to take care of yourself. 


Valiant Living wants to get you set up with a toolkit that you can utilize to combat your drug and alcohol addiction. Valiant fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their Higher Power through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado. We offer a full range of recovery and mental health services to enrich our clients’ lives. Call us today to get started in your recovery at (303) 952-5035.