Thanksgiving’s passed and Chanukah, Yule (or the winter solstice), and Christmas are around the corner. This time of year typically means lots of social gatherings. Which, although fun, can also be tense.
And the best way to deal with family and friends, is to have clear and firm boundaries.
An emotional boundary is about knowing what is and is not acceptable behavior for you.
Many of us grew up in families where boundaries were unclear or non-existent. So, as adults, we’ve either never had them or have had to learn how to create healthy ones.
Once you’ve established what your boundaries are, it’s then a matter of stating them aloud to friends and family.
Let’s say that an aunt who you’re somewhat close to wants to visit for 10 days. You’re finding yourself dreading it because it’s too long, you have a ton to do and it’ll be draining. Instead of saying yes out of guilt or obligation, you can simply explain that you host houseguests for a maximum of 5 nights (or whatever feels reasonable to you.)
Here’s another example.
Your close friend is chronically late and you’re always waiting 30+ minutes every time you agree to get together. Explain to him that this is hurtful, not to mention disrespecting of you, and an utter waste of your time. If he doesn’t value you enough, perhaps it’s time to find some new friends.
After all, we teach people how to treat us.
As Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently put it, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
Ready to have super clear boundaries?
Here are 3 ways to help:
1. Tune in to You
Sometimes we’re really clear about what’s okay and not okay. Other times, it’s only after we’ve experienced something negatively when we realize that it didn’t feel good.
Either way, take note and make changes.
If it’s true that we teach people how to treat us, then we need to know exactly how we want to be treated! And then be explicit.
2. Speak Up
Sometimes when we ask for what we need, we feel like we’re being selfish, or even a bitch. But establishing clear boundaries isn’t about being selfish. It’s about positive self-care AND ultimately, about being your best self.
Think about it. When you feel taken advantage of, are you in a good mood or a bad mood?
How about when you feel supported?
See what I mean?
By expressing your needs, you’re putting it out there so that everyone knows and it’s transparent.
And don’t be shy to ask for help! Many of us givers get stuck doing all the work. Ask some of those kids or cousins to don the latex gloves and scrub those pots!
3. Foster Respect
Boundaries are ultimately about respect. It’s me respecting your needs and you respecting mine.
It’s about honoring one another – our emotional and physical space.
And isn’t that a nicer way to live when we all feel respected?
In this most wonderful holiday season, when excitement and cheer are abounding, be sure to also take good care of yourself with those clear boundaries. So that come January, you don’t feel drained and resentful, but instead, recharged and nourished.