How to set boundaries during the holidays

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The holidays are a time for gratitude, traditions and togetherness, but without boundaries, this time of year can be emotionally draining and stressful for some.

A boundary refers to a limit, but when we speak about boundaries in psychological terms, we mean a limit that marks the difference between behaviour that doesn’t cause emotional harm and behaviour that does.

“Arrogance, put-downs or projections can trigger others to relive their painful implicit memories. When I can separate myself from the other person’s stuff, I am present and not affected by their experience.” — Theo Fleury from ‘Conversations with a Rattlesnake’

To enjoy the holidays and the company of your friends and family this season, here are some ways you can set healthy boundaries:

  • Be self-aware: awareness of yourself and your feelings is important in this process. Check-in with yourself often, ask yourself things like: “what do I feel in my body?”, “what are my emotions right now?”. Be aware of what makes you happy and what can be a trigger for you, sometimes this can mean saying no to people or places.
  • Take care of yourself: taking into account the last point, take care of your needs first and be aware of what those needs are. Be alone when you need to be alone, be with people when you need to be with people. Your needs and feelings are important, pay attention to them. Be kind to yourself.
  • Communicate your needs: be calm and clear when you communicate your needs, but be sure to communicate them. While it’s important to identify with yourself what your needs and boundaries are, communicating them to others around you is just as important.
  • Stick to your guns: while being calm and clear in communicating boundaries, stick to them once you communicate them. Don’t apologize for your boundaries, they are important to your well-being. If someone isn’t respecting your boundaries, do what is necessary to remove yourself from that person or situation in order to satisfy your boundaries without escalating emotions.
  • Remember you are only responsible for yourself: you cannot control anyone else but yourself, so remember that you are not responsible for how anyone else reacts to your boundaries. You have control of one person, you.

Above all, value yourself and your feelings and know that you are worth it.

Watch these videos of Kim Barthel and Theo Fleury, sharing perspectives on boundaries:

VIDEO [Kim Barthel on boundaries]

VIDEO [Theo Fleury on boundaries]

We wish you and your loved ones a happy holiday season! Keep the conversation going with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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