Do you say, “Yes” when you really mean, “No?”
Do you agree to make a dish, attend a party, or have overnight guests when your December schedule is already maxed out?
Do you disregard your needs just to please others?
And does the resentment you feel about doing this send you running to the tin of Christmas cookies your neighbor brought over?
If you can relate, you’re not alone. So many people do not learn healthy boundaries growing up. With the added demands of the holiday season approaching, it’s crucial to your health that you know when to draw the line.
Me —> Boundary <— You
Boundaries are the emotional and physical borders we place between ourselves and other people. They reflect how we see and treat ourselves in relation to others.
Strong boundaries are essential for your health and self-care. They support you to make good decisions for yourself. Weak boundaries support others at your expense.
For example, Karen has strong boundaries and is very clear when she doesn’t want to do something. (“Thank you for the dinner invitation but no, I can’t. I’m looking forward to a quiet evening at home tonight.”) She’s sensitive to other people’s feelings but not ruled by them.
Suzanne has weak boundaries and often says, “Yes” because she fears displeasing people. (“Sure, I’ll meet you tonight,” she tells her friend. She then beats herself up, “Why did I say that?! I have tons of work to do!”) Her fear of disappointing people makes their needs more important than her own. But her resentment and anger send her straight to the fridge.
If you struggle with setting boundaries around your time and energy, somewhere along the way you probably learned your feelings and needs didn’t matter. Trust me, though, your feelings are the only things that matter. (more…)