boundaries and the holidays

This is a hot topic right now because the holidays are here which means more family time. For some, this can feel unbearable.

If you are one of those people who want or have to spend time with family during the holidays and experience a lot of boundary crossing keep reading!

My tips:

TIP 1. REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION. Guess what, people might not accept your answer the first time. This does not mean you have to explain yourself over and over. For example, if someone says “take a shot with us” and you have decided to stop drinking for personal reasons you can respond “no thanks”.  Then they answer and say “Come on just one.” You could say, “No, I do not want to drink tonight.” Either they will move on, insult you or ask you why. Despite how they respond you have control over how you answer whether you remove yourself from that person, give a short explanation (if you want) or if you have the patience and creativity to find a new way to say no. It is best to keep responses short and sweet. When you set a boundary it should be direct, clear, and assertive.

If you feel uncomfortable setting boundaries remember that it can feel just as uncomfortable having someone set a boundary for them. For example, A few years ago I told my friend to help herself to some food. She said she wasn’t hungry. I recall I kept insisting that she should eat despite her telling me in a clear direct way “no” and that she was not hungry. I reflected on this and realized her response didn’t need to change it was my mindset and reaction to her response. Why did it bother me so much that she wasn’t eating? Why did I keep on insisting even though her explanation made complete sense? Looking back, I have been in her position many times. Being pressured to eat when I wasn’t hungry and I would give in to please that person and to make them stop pressuring me. I most likely assumed she would give in as I would have but since she didn’t it made me uncomfortable.

I am glad she stood her ground and didn’t curse me out. I learned that you can have boundaries and still have healthy relationships. Boundaries do not always result in fighting or cutting people off.

Tip 2 – If you are in therapy talk with your therapist about your specific concerns and they will work with you to mentally and emotionally prepare for the holidays. 

TIP 3. OWN IT- Once you have journaled, talked it over with your therapist, or reflected on a boundary you would like to implement, OWN IT. A lot of times our insecurities and uncertainties with how a boundary will be received or fear of what people will think of us hold us back from even trying to set the boundary or giving in the second it is questioned. Remember you are allowed to change your boundaries. They are not permanent unless you want them to be. Since it is your boundary that you took the time to make and implement it is also your responsibility to uphold it. It is not other people’s job to keep track of all of your boundaries or understand the ins and outs of it. People are more likely to take your boundaries seriously if you take them seriously as well. Even if you are unsure of the boundary you are making is necessary OWN IT. If you tell your boss you don’t work weekends and they ask you to work on the weekend after that agreement.. DO NOT DO IT. A huge mistake in boundary setting is breaking your own boundary. Taking responsibility for that boundary and holding yourself accountable is key. Once you start breaking your own boundaries or letting people determine what your boundaries should or shouldn’t be it crosses over to people-pleasing, codependency, insecurity, self-doubt, incongruency, etc.

Pocket reminders: 

-The goal is not perfection. 

-Boundaries are an act of self-care.

-People do not have to agree with my boundaries.

-When someone sets a boundary I will respect it and self-reflect on my discomfort instead of projecting it onto them.

– Boundaries are not walls. They give people the opportunity to engage with you in a healthier way.

-Boundaries can strengthen your relationships.

-Boundaries can create a sense of trust. 

The pros of boundary setting:

1. Increases confidence

2. Increase in self-awareness

3. Protects your energy

4. Allows people to love and respect you in a deeper and more intentional way

5. You start to notice the red and green flags in your relationships more based on whether they respect your boundaries. 

6. It can be empowering to yourself and others.

I would be lying if I told you there are only positive effects of setting boundaries. In reality, it could lead to arguments, frustration, loneliness, anxiety, etc. Those are temporary though. Doing something that is right for you is usually worth the discomfort. I can not promise it will solve all of your problems… it might even cause more problems in the short term but hopefully less in the long term. 

Many of us come from cultures that do not model healthy boundary setting. Therefore give yourself lots of patience. It is like riding a bike. It isn’t going to be perfect the first time or every time. But it will start to feel more natural with practice. It 

Check out this video about boundary setting in the Latinx community. You are not alone in this journey:

Your favorite Latina therapist,

 Erika Medrano M.A. LGPC

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