The holidays are upon us, and some of us may already be feeling the anxiety of returning home.
This time of year can trigger many different emotions, especially for those who might be spending it with family and feeling like they’re walking into the lion’s den. It can even bring up feelings of all the work you’ve been doing up until now being put to the test.
What you’re feeling is normal.
It’s very understandable to feel hesitant if you know you’re entering an environment that can be unhealthy, triggering or dysfunctional, and if this resonates with you, then this post is for you.
Boundaries has been an ongoing topic discussed numerous times, but I figured, what better time to refresh some foundational aspects of boundaries than right before a family gathering?
Because let’s be real—oftentimes it’s those closest to us that we have the most difficulty setting boundaries with, and who have the hardest time honoring our boundaries in return.
So, here are some tips from therapist and boundaries expert Nedra Tawwab to keep in your back pocket this holiday season…
Reminders For People with Difficult Family Relationships:
You are not alone. There is no such thing as a “perfect” family.
You are not obligated to have relationships with unhealthy people.
You do not have to like every person in your family.
You cannot create healthy rleationships with people who are not interested in having healthy relationships.
You are not betraying anyone by speaking your truth. You’re honoring yourself.
It’s okay to be different from the other people in your family.
You can create family relationships with people who are not related to you.
Four Things to Say When Your Boundaries Are Challenged:
“Please stop bringing up what I used to allow. My tolerance has changed.”
“In the past, I’ve allowed something different, and my needs are different now.”
“It might not be easy to adjust to this change. Yet, I care about this relationship enough that I want us to try.”
“I’m changing and this is what I need now.”
It Might Feel Liberating to Say:
“I know you said you’re joking, but it seemed more like a jab than a joke.”
“I know I said I could help you, but after looking at my schedule, I can’t fit it in.”
“Please don’t tell me what to do. I’d prefer if you supported me by listening.”
“I’m learning to trust myself. Therefore, I’d like to decide without input from others.”
“I know you’re speaking from your experiences, and I hope that things will work out differently for me.”
“It’s a personal matter, and I want to keep it private.”
Lastly, if you haven’t already watched Nedra on Red Table Talk, where she breaks down different types of boundaries and examples on how to set them, I highly recommend taking some time to check it out.
At the end of the day, you can only do your best. Utilize the pause and deep breath before reacting. Should you show up in a way you’re not proud of later, find some grace and compassion with yourself. This work takes time and practice, and you’re doing it.
I hope you have an amazing holiday, however you choose to celebrate it, and as always, take care of yourself.