Holiday Harmony Series - Fresh Boundaries For The Festive Season

Dec 12, 2023

Pt. 3 - When it comes to boundaries with others, it's not just about keeping people out or staying safe. They contribute to the quality of relationships.

Boundaries with others aren’t just about keeping people out or staying safe. They contribute to the quality of relationships. Understanding someone’s limits can make it easier to be respectful of them, build trust and enjoy more meaningful connections.

The festive season often includes more socializing so it’s a great time to examine your beliefs and to set and practice boundaries that account for your growth - both past and future.

Boundaries are based on belief. They’re often stories from the distant past. It may feel like they’re keeping you safe but they can also keep you in a box, limiting your experience of life.

Unwrap those boxes and see what’s inside. Is it true that you “Can’t stand…(fill in the blank)?”  Or, are you still “The kind of person who…” These phrases could be clues to limiting beliefs.

Your deep thinking and processing are an asset here. So, take some time with your journal or take a long walk in the woods. Ask yourself, “What do I most need in my relationships with others?” This is a big question so let it unfold in layers over time. As responses come to you, ask, “Where does this come from?” And, “Is this still true? Or, “Does this still serve me?”

A great source for investigation to discover these answers is recent interactions. Reflect. Where are you feeling loved and understood? Where are you feeling agitated or wronged? Where is this coming from?

You may discover you’re running old programming that’s in some way limiting the depth and meaning of some of your relationships. 

It could even be keeping you from growing professionally. The human brain runs programs. It’s an energy-efficient feature that keeps us alive. Our work is to keep an eye on the programs and notice when they need an upgrade.

When you look beneath your boundaries, you may find an old story or cultural myth that’s simply no longer true for you. What other societal and personal myths are you holding? For example, “It’s impolite or rude to say no.” Or, “Asking for what I need is…needy.”

Get clear on what you want and don’t want from people for your now self and your future self. Then let them know.

Sharing a boundary may feel risky because it feels like you’re asking someone for something. You can re-frame this when you understand you’re helping the other person by letting them know what you need. It’s a kindness to another, not a burden, demand or insult.

And no need to apologize. You get to set limits. Everyone does. Asking someone to lower their voice when they stop by your desk to talk to you doesn’t warrant an apology. You could say, “I’m not sure if you were aware, but I have acute hearing so when we’re talking you can use a much lower voice and I can still hear you fine. Thanks for understanding!”

When your co-worker understands your sensitive hearing, it gives them a chance to be more compassionate which can lead to greater connection.

Look at boundaries as a safe space for you to be in relationships, not avoid them. And, examine these rules and limits to see what needs to be edited to allow room for who you are now and who you wish to become.

Rest and self-care are best for your boundaries. You’ll feel less vulnerable and exposed when you have a well-regulated nervous system. The term used to describe this state is, “safe and social.” When you take care of yourself before and after socializing, you’ll get more out of the experience. Stopping by an office party at the end of the workday? Take 10 minutes before you go to sit at your desk with your eyes closed listening to soothing music or a guided visualization.

When you’ve got your book club holiday party, a potluck and a Christmas concert all on one day, drive from one to the other in silence focusing on slow, deep breathing, wear clothes that feel good - mind and body - and stay hydrated. You can also choose to see all this socializing as a fun opportunity to try out your updated social rules.

Another refresh on boundaries is to discern whether something you’re saying yes to feels like an obligation rather than something you’re choosing to take responsibility for. Taking responsibility feels more empowered than feeling obligated. This distinction alone may give you more energy to socialize and connect.

With a fresh take on your boundaries and why you have them, you’ll be set for a wonderful festive season.

Highly sensitive person (HSP) is a personality trait that 20% of the world's population has. Do you? Take this quiz to find out.

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