SET PERSONAL BOUNDARIES TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON
If Gen Z has taught us nothing else, we have finally begun to normalise the importance of setting and upholding boundaries for ourselves.
WHAT ARE BOUNDARIES AND WHY DO I NEED THEM?
Like a velvet rope dictating a queue, your personal boundaries are a list of actions, behaviours, or expectations you won’t accept having directed at you. Many of us are raised to put the needs and comfort of others ahead of our own, which can lead to stress, anxiety, and, more commonly among the working population, burnout.
Standing up for yourself will feel uncomfortable at first, but practice makes perfect, and soon those around you will become familiar with this newfound respect for yourself.
DECIDE WHAT YOU WILL AND WON’T ACCEPT
Anyone with a generous nature tends to go into overdrive over the holidays, filled with the spirit of giving, often forgetting to give to the most important person – ourselves.
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF FEELING EXHAUSTED or empty during the festive season, take the time to consider what’s got you feeling that way. Identify your stressors – write them down if you have to – and then try to come up with comprehensive ways to lighten your load.
– Your boss tends to call whenever there’s a problem, which can interfere with family time. Decide you won’t answer the phone between certain hours and put your phone on do not disturb.
ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF
Wanting something for yourself is the first step to getting it. The second step? Telling people. Confrontation can be icky but if you take deep breaths and remind yourself that you are allowed to be firm, you will get through it.
BE CALM, SIMPLE, AND DIRECT
People-pleasers don’t like hurting others’ feelings, even if it means they get hurt along the way. Speaking up about what you want and need may cause some tension initially, but when done in a respectful and calm manner, it will only go to improve your relationships in the long run. Using “I” statements may also help reduce potential resentments. I.e., “I feel (emotion) when (behaviour or action you don’t like) because (the effect it has on you).”
Here are a few examples you can tailor to your needs:
– “I felt embarrassed when I saw your reaction to my gift because I tried to give you the best present that I could with the budget that I have. I wish I could buy you a nicer gift, but I can’t. Thank you for understanding.”
– “I feel special when you think I am still young, but I am 35 years old. I don’t think I should be treated the same way. What do you think is the best way for us to go about this?”
– “I feel tempted when I get offered alcoholic drinks because I’ve been sober for only about four months. I am in an alcohol recovery program. Any juice would be good for me. Thank you, though.”
GET COMFORTABLE WITH SAYING NO
Not every situation warrants a detailed discussion or explanation. Sometimes a simple, heartfelt no is all it takes.
BE PROUD OF YOURSELF
Setting boundaries for yourself can be daunting – it’s hard to be vulnerable and honest with the people we love, but it’s worth the risk. Not everyone is going to be on board with your new sense of self-respect – they’ll either accept your new boundaries or they won’t, and that’s okay. People are in your life for reasons and seasons, after all.
Let strong boundaries be the gift you give to yourself this season, and every day for the rest of your life.