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Managing Boundaries During Holidays

Boundaries. Maps have them. People need them (probably way more than they realize).

What are personal boundaries you may ask? They are expectations and needs that help you feel safe and comfortable in your relationships. 

Expectations in relationships help you stay mentally and emotionally well. Knowing when to say “yes” or “no” is an essential part of feeling comfortable when interacting with others.

Personal Boundaries

There are many needed personal boundaries in your life. Here are a few examples of personal boundaries:

  • A safeguard for overextending yourself
  • Self-care practices
  • Defined roles in a relationship
  • The ability to communicate acceptable and unacceptable behavior in relationships
  • Parameters for knowing what to expect in relationships
  • A way that you ask people to show up by upholding your needs
  • A way to communicate your needs to others
  • A way to create healthy relationships
  • A way to create clarity
  • A way to feel safe

You always must remember and remind others that there are no unspoken rules for engaging in a relationship; boundaries must be communicated out loud.

Signs of an Issue

And sometimes we believe we have effective boundaries in our personal lives, but we don’t.

Here are some examples that you may have a boundary issue:

  • Neglecting self-care
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Feeling resentment
  • Avoidance

Types of Boundaries

Boundaries come in all shapes and sizes and exist at different levels. These boundaries include porous, rigid, and healthy. Porous boundaries lead to unhealthy closeness, while rigid ones are a self-protective mechanism meant to build distance.

Porous boundaries are weak or poorly expressed and are unintentionally harmful. Examples of porous boundaries include:

  • Oversharing
  • Codependency
  • Embellishment
  • Inability to say no
  • People-pleasing
  • Dependency on feedback from others
  • Paralyzing fear of being rejected
  • Accepting mistreatment

Examples of rigid boundaries include:

  • Never sharing
  • Building walls
  • Avoiding vulnerability
  • Cutting people out
  • Having high expectations of others
  • Enforcing strict rules

Healthy Boundaries

Healthy boundaries are possible when your past doesn’t show up in your present interactions. They require an awareness of your emotional, mental, and physical capacities combined with clear communication.

Examples of healthy boundaries include:

  • Being clear about your values
  • Listening to your own opinion
  • Sharing with others appropriately
  • Having a healthy vulnerability with people who have earned your trust
  • Being comfortable saying “no”
  • Being comfortable hearing “no” without taking it personally

Keeping the Peace During the Holidays

It’s the holiday season and with it comes more gatherings and increased possibilities of boundary infringement.

We can’t predict and plan for all challenges during the holidays. Many micro boundary violations may come in the form of seemingly benign yet intrusive questions that you may not feel comfortable answering.

Responses to these violations are important. Remember: call it out, make it about them, and declare that your decision is made.

Here are a few examples:

  • Respond with a question. “That’s an interesting question. What prompted you to ask me that?”
  • Turn the questions back on them. “Do you want more kids?”
  • Change the topic by glossing over the question. “Money is always such an interesting topic. What are you currently enjoying on Netflix?”
  • Be direct. “I don’t feel comfortable answering that question.”
  • Make your boundaries clear. “I don’t like it when people talk about my weight.”

Remember, boundaries grow and expand over time as our needs change and assessing and setting boundaries is ongoing.

By Ariel Mulzoff, LMSW for Hope For The Warriors

Ariel Mulzoff, LMSW, is a regional social worker and the Hope For The Warriors’ Resilient Warrior & Resilient Family Program Manager. Married to a salty Marine veteran and a mother to two hooligans, ages 5 years and 21 months, Ariel credits meditation and movement as being the pillars on which her sanity rests. In her spare time, you can either find her lifting heavy weights, hiking, or reading a book. 

 

Author

  • Hope For The Warriors

    Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors (HOPE) is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing a foundation of financial, career and educational stability. Physical and emotional strength. And social support with true connection and belonging that builds community. What began as post-combat bedside care and support has evolved to a national organization that has adapted to ongoing changes within the military community. The organization has stayed the course with our country’s post-9/11 veteran population as physical wounds healed, but emotional wounds still needed care. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 159,200 through a variety of support programs. For more information, visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

1 Comment

  1. Sharita Knobloch

    Wow, wow, WOW, Ariel– I LOVE boundaries (ok, the effects of them– boundaries are still hard for me) and I seriously needed to read this today. THANK YOU!

    Reply

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Teen Etiquette

Teen Etiquette

Yes, manners are still important and that includes Teen etiquette too! In last-month’s blog, we talked about the basic etiquette to teach your children. When they get a little older, it’s time to add to that list of important etiquette lessons. Teaching your children manners and basic etiquette will carry them further in life than anything else you can teach them.

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