Setting boundaries around the holidays can feel much harder than it is year-round. Why are boundaries around the holidays so hard? We increasingly live in boundary less environments with no structure around our home life, our work life, our personal life, and our public life. So, it is up to us to define the contours of what is acceptable in our home life; what role we want work to play in our life; what aspects of our life we want to keep private; and what parts of our life we want to share more broadly.
Boundaries have been defined in a plethora of different ways.
Nedra Tawwab defines boundaries as “words or actions that you communicate to someone to feel safe, secure, and supported in a relationship.” They can take many forms, including limits on your time, your energy, around your relationships, at work, etc.
Brene Brown says a boundary is “defining what’s ok with me and what’s not.”
Amanda Doyle defines boundaries as “something that clarifies what we are responsible for and what we’re not responsible for.”
How do you know you need to set a boundary during the holidays?
Typically, you know you need a boundary when the holiday triggers anxiety, when certain people or situations make you uncomfortable, or when you feel resentment about the way you are treated by someone. Pay attention to your feelings about people and specific situations to determine what exactly is triggering these feelings.
These feelings are a bodily sign that:
You are prioritizing other people’s comfort over your own.
You are handling matters that are not your responsibility.
You are taking care of other people’s emotional well-being at the expense of your own.
You are saying yes out of obligation rather than desire.
Ask yourself the hard questions:
How am I contributing to this situation?
What do I need to say to stop colluding in this pattern of behavior?
What makes this person think that it is OK to treat me this way?