Peace, love and joy. Those words are synonymous with the spirit of the holidays, yet for many Americans, they’re missing. For some, the season is the perfect time for gathering with family and friends to celebrate love, life and each other, but for others, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The holidays can bring about sour memories, disagreements and, in some cases, decade-old feuds. What’s one to do when the holidays are triggering and painful instead of holly and jolly? Boundaries. One sets boundaries. And here are three ways to do that with family, friends and co-workers during this holiday season.
Lay down the rules
First up, the obvious: setting boundaries. If you thought you could get away with being meek this holiday season, you’re wrong. You’ll have to speak up to make your wants and needs known.
For example, let’s say you’re in recovery and don’t want to be around alcohol. People need to know this. If someone invites you to a holiday party, ask if it’ll be a dry party. If it’s not, respectfully decline and let them know why.
If you don’t want to let people, like co-workers, know you’re in recovery, that’s 100% okay. No one is entitled to that information. You can always thank them for the invite and let them know you have other plans, even if you don’t. Again, you don’t owe it to anyone to put yourself in a situation that may cause you harm.
Or maybe there’s a toxic family member who has been invited to your family gathering this year, and you cannot — for your own mental health — be in the same room as that person. There are a few, easy solutions to this:
Ask the host when that person will arrive and plan to go before or after they’ve left.
Go the day before to help the host cook and prep, then skip the gathering.
Be bold and ask the host not to invite said person and explain why. If the host is not willing to accommodate your request then do what’s best for you.
Sometimes setting boundaries means creating new traditions and letting people go — even family. You can’t bring everyone with you on your journey toward a happier and healthier you.
Need help setting boundaries? Here are some other ways to do that.
We’re all familiar with Shonda Rhimes’ year of yes, but I’d like to introduce you to my little friend — NO. Telling people no is an important part of your self-care plan.
You cannot please everyone, and let’s be frank: Not everyone is entitled to your energy anyway. Energy is currency, and you ain’t got time to spend it frivolously.
Here are some of my favorite lines, and before your holiday gathering, I suggest you get familiar with how they sound coming out of your mouth:
No, I will not be in the same room as [INSERT TRIGGERING PERSON]
No, I will not be around toxic behavior.
No, I will not put myself in a situation that will trigger me.
No, I will not discuss [INSERT TRIGGERING TOPICS].
No, you cannot invade my personal space.
If you need a little motivation, Mimi can help you with that.
Recruit a friend
Going to a holiday dinner where your toxic uncle or cousin will bet? Bring a friend — one you trust and who knows what’s going on — to keep you focused.
Sometimes you need an accountability partner to help you tread through the mud. If things get heated, your friend is there to remind you to breathe and if need be, get you out of there before you throw the Christmas ham across the table.
Friends are also great in helping you create a new traditions — like the now popular ‘friends-giving’. Why couldn’t you do the same with Christmas, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa? Make a list of all the people you actually enjoy spending time with and who make your life brighter. Then invite them over for a potluck with Dominoes, Spades and some good old board games.
In the spirit of New Year’s, be out with the old and ring in the new!