Holiday Survival Tip: Setting Boundaries with Sabrina

Hi all, it’s officially pumpkin spice season, I mean FALL! Let’s be honest pumpkin spice is a lot like spilled glitter, it’s EVERYWHERE and difficult to escape! What I love most about fall and the month of November is Thanksgiving! The holidays are generally a known time of the year for family and extended family to come together to be among one another. While I love my family, it can also be a stressful time with many demands coming from all directions. There’s travelling, hosting, giving, invitations, be here and do that. Aside from demands also dealing with hurtful comments, judgments or unacceptable words and behaviors from family members.  So today, I am here with one survival tip on how to survive the holidays with your family and that is BOUNDARIES!

Whether you come from a functional, dysfunctional or toxic family relationships, boundaries will be your essential life line. The most difficult boundaries to set are with those whom you are closest, so while this survival tip seems “simple” its still very difficult and takes a lot of courage to work through those fears of the potential backlash from setting boundaries.

In setting boundaries, its important to recognize that your needs are important. Identify those needs on a daily basis by checking in with yourself. You can also prepare in advance which topics or situations are off limits or require boundary setting.

Additionally, you will want to consider your approach. Most often we reach a level of anger and our boundary setting becomes aggressive. Its important to be firm but kind in your boundary setting approach. Being assertive is not the same as aggressive. In being assertive, standing up for yourself while still showing respect is key. For example, “Please don’t say that to me. It makes me uncomfortable even if you mean it as a compliment”. It’s also important to know that saying “No” is enough. Growing up in a Hispanic culture I learned saying “no” was impolite. This is far from the truth. No is enough. No is a simple and complete sentence.   

Another tip in setting boundaries with family is to communicate what will happen if the boundary is violated. For instance, “This conversation makes me uncomfortable, can we change the conversation Otherwise I will need to leave the room?”. If the violation continues, its important that you honor your boundaries and follow through with the consequence you established.

Finally, and most important, is try not to take family reactions to your boundary setting personally. If being assertive and setting boundaries is new for you, your family is not going to be used to this new empowerment from you. 

As I mentioned earlier setting boundaries is not an easy task, so if it does not work for you right away, look at the opportunity as a way to refine your strategy. Boundary setting is a skill, and one that can be learned with practice and time. If setting boundaries in relationships is a challenge you experience, schedule an appointment with me to build upon your boundary setting skills.

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