A lot of stress comes up during the holidays. This can be a time of anxiety, burnout, and frustration. It’s a great time to set healthy boundaries. Your family may expect you to travel long distances for gatherings. You dread seeing relatives who make underhanded comments about your weight or your parenting. And how often are you expected to withhold your true feelings just to “keep the peace”?
To set healthy boundaries can be a challenge. But using our 4 steps to set healthy boundaries could be a direct road to keeping your peace and creating overall healthier relationships.
Keep reading for 4 steps to set healthy boundaries this holiday season.
STEP 1: BE CLEAR WITH YOURSELF
It can be difficult to convey your boundaries to others if you are not clear with yourself about what they are.
- Are you anxious about people asking for details about your recent divorce?
- Is gift-buying for everyone in your extended family way out of your budget?
- Do multi-day holiday gatherings cause strain on your mental health?
Once you identify your own needs, you will find it easier to communicate them with others later.
STEP 2: FIND YOUR SUPPORT SYSTEM
Identify the person you trust most in your life and disclose your boundaries to them first. This could be a parent, your partner, your therapist, or a friend, Having a trusted person on your side can go a long way in maintaining your healthy limits. They will be there to support you if you voice your boundaries to others and receive pushback from others.
STEP 3: BE CALM AND DIRECT
For a better chance at a positive outcome, speak of your boundaries in a calm and direct manner. Verbalizing boundaries does not have to come from a place of negativity.
Some examples of how to address different situations calmly and directly:
- “I appreciate that you are concerned for my well-being, but I’d prefer to not talk about my divorce right now. I would rather enjoy my time with all of you.”
- “Thank you for wanting to include me in the gift exchange. Unfortunately, I will not be able to participate due to my tight budget. Maybe next year!”
- “My schedule is very overwhelming at the moment, and I, unfortunately, cannot commit to all of the get-togethers you have planned. However, I’m happy to say that I can come to these few.”
Directness is important. You don’t want to leave any gaps that some may use to persuade you to change your mind. Remember, you are creating these boundaries because you recognize they are important for your well-being.
STEP 4: IT’S OKAY TO WALK AWAY
If you are interacting with someone who regularly dismisses your needs or uses gaslighting tactics, there is potential for pushback. If this happens, and tensions start to rise, it’s okay to walk away. Excuse yourself from the conversation for a few minutes to calm down before returning. If your boundaries are continuously ignored, leave the situation entirely. Your needs are valid and important, and you deserve to have them respected.
BONUS STEP: TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL
Struggling to set boundaries can be the product of past negative experiences. Speaking with a trained therapist can offer a new level of support. A professional can help you formulate language you feel comfortable with in expressing your boundaries. You’ll gain confidence by playing out boundary-setting conversations, practicing assertiveness and working through any conflicts you encounter.
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CONTACT CREATIVE COUNSELING CENTER
Do you have difficulty setting and keeping healthy boundaries? Does low self-esteem make it a challenge to speak up? Counseling can help you get to the root of the problem. Better yet, it can help you move forward in a solution-focused manner. We invite you to complete the brief form below to Request a Free Consultation. A member of our team will reach out to you to determine if our practice and which therapist is equipped to provide the best support for your specific needs. We look forward to hearing from you!