Healthy Holiday Boundaries
Oh the holidays! I so wish I was a woman living in a Hallmark holiday movie. I wish my home was decorated to perfection and stuffed to the brim with holiday cheer and family and friends gathered. I so long for beautiful skin and gorgeous holiday party outfits that appear to be flawless, but let's get real here. The holidays tend to be about rushed travel plans, dry skin, over-eating and passive aggressive family situations. Anyone else, or just me?
Holidays in the past, have always been a source of major anxiety for me. That is until last year when I discovered the power of Healthy Holiday Boundries. My husband and I figured out something so profound when planning for the holidays, that it forever changed how we approach the holidays in a stress-free manner from now on. We realized that we were planning out all of our activities for others out of obligation, instead of what the holidays should be about in the first place, time with loved ones and joy. For the first time in the history of of marriage and relationship, we decided we would not, I repeat, would not travel or spend time with either of our families. We instead decided to create our own traditions that we wanted to enjoy together, without the added stress of travel, obligations and picking out the perfect gifts.
Now, I know you may be reading this and may be freaking out at this point, but hear me out for a little bit longer here friend. I think it is time for you to ask yourself WHY you partake in the certain "traditions" you are choosing to partake in. Seriously, I encourage you to write down a list of EVERY single thing you love and loathe about the holidays. Some of those things may include sipping hot cider, the Electric Safari at your local zoo, traveling back home to see your extended family, etc. Write it all down and label what you love and loathe. Now here is the secret folks, the things that make the "Loathe" list, they need to be cut this year. Seriously, you are allowed to say, "NO" to the things that do not serve your best interest and elevate you to your best self. For example, I used to think that making Thanksgiving dinner was a way for me to show my extended family that I loved them. It was as if I believed that I could bake my way to being loved and valued by them. However, here's the thing, I didn't even like eating 90% of the shit I made. For one thing, I am allergic to dairy, and my brother in law is allergic to corn, and the list goes on. I was making three of every kind of dish because somebody else wanted it, not me! I am sure some of you can relate to this. You are the one buying the beautiful dish-ware to bake and serve, but then you also end up being the one who doesn't get to enjoy it because you are too busy trying to be the best hostess and don't want to inconvenience any one else's holiday dinner experience by asking them to wash the dishes. But inwardly you are starting to become hangry and resentful because you expect others to help with asking and so on. You get the picture. Why are you CHOOSING to do things that you dislike?
Let me make this as clear as I can for you. When we don't set boundaries, it's similar to not having set boundaries lines around your property. It is like allowing others to walk their dogs in your front lawn just to have their dogs shit and not pick up after themselves. Do not let others shit in your lawn. You need some better boundaries friend. I am not saying you need to create a boundary line by installing a moat and inpregnatable fortress. I am saying that it may be time to install a small fence here, or a posted sign there. Think about it. If someone doesn't know that there is a boundary, they will walk all over never knowing they are trespassing. But if you have a posted sign or fence, they now know they need to walk around. We train people on how we want to be treated. We are failing to be treated in the way we deserve because we are to afraid to set boundaries. Trust me, I know how hard and scary it is to tell someone you know that you want things to be a different way then what they are used to. But I cannot tell you how much more fulfilling and meaningful time spent with others is now for me because they know where my boundaries are, allowing me to be fully present and joyful of the moment instead of in my head trying to dance around the false expectations I created for myself.
This holiday season, create your list of joyful traditions and experiences by choosing to engage in those, and not choosing to engage in the one you feel obligated to but hate. If you want to spend the holidays alone, at home with your spouse and kids, that's beautiful. Tell your parents and in-laws to mail the gifts and that you'll FaceTime them when it's time to open gifts. You want to visit with family, but don't want to all stay under the same roof because you can't stand that one thing that one family member says about your decorating or home's cleanliness, what a gift! Ask them to stay in a hotel and invite them to dinner out. The point I am trying to make here is that your boundaries are yours to draw! No one gets a say on why those boundaries work for you. Do not be afraid of judgement from others, because it's not their peace your trying to protect, it's yours.