Healthy Holiday Boundaries
The holiday season is upon us. This is traditionally a time when we gather with family and friends in order to bond and build memories. However, for some the holiday season can turn into friction, feeling judged, and airing of old laundry. The best way to create a warm spark of harmony during holidays and all throughout the year is to set healthy boundaries.
Thus, the best path to follow is by answering the following question:
What are holidays all about? We have created an acronym to remind you of what’s important.
S = Service (helping others)
P = Positivity (bonding, gratitude)
A = Acceptance (connection, inclusion)
R = Relinquish (letting go, forgiveness)
K = Kindness (service, compassion)
Start by Setting Your Personal Boundaries
The place to start is with yourself. Before you gather with others, make a commitment to always take the higher road and disengage if need be. Because you’ve done the work, you can be the one to lead by example. If the activities and interactions fall out of alignment with any of the values above, the best thing to do is walk away and re-group within yourself. Imagine the warm flame glowing within, the SPARK of HARMONY. You can maintain your own glow by continually adding fuel that is healthy and appropriate.
In order to do this it is important at all times to be aware of what a holiday is NOT. The holiday season is not a time for fixing. It is not a time for converting another to your point of view, nor is it the season for confronting or gossiping. Furthering your agenda should not be the focus. The holidays are not a time to hold grudges or prove yourself. It has been said that how you end the year is setting the tone for the rest of the year.
Pointers to Make Your Holidays Run Smooth
Specifically, let us explore 5 tips on overcoming dysfunctional behavior that may arise during your family gathering this season. If possible, share this information with the family prior to the gathering in hopes that all of you will be on the same page. Here are the pointers to make your holiday run smoother:
Avoid too much Alcohol
Alcohol causes appropriate filters to be discarded. In other words, people who drink alcohol may take action or say things they otherwise would not say. Alcohol is a depressant and though it may alleviate frustration or pain for a time, it will eventually move you into a depressive state. Thus, the situation gets even darker than it was. For some, alcohol causes them to become angry, and belligerent. For others, it is a way of escaping and not fully being present.
Healthy boundaries for the use of alcohol are to set a personal limit to only a few drinks or none at all. Bring your own non-alcoholic drink so that you have something to look forward to. Be creative. If others are thoughtlessly rambling and obviously had a little too much to drink, remember that “silence is golden.” If the situation gets too toxic, simply remove yourself altogether. Go for a walk or step into another room, etc.
Politics & Religion not Topics for the Holidays
These subjects can at times be very divisive. And since there is no in-depth study due to the fact that no one was anticipating discussing the issues, the conversation can turn very black and white. There will be no conversion and sadly these types of conversations turn into a yelling match where someone is trying to “be right.” So, the best way to deal with this is simply not to engage. Stay positive.
Be aware of Negative Family Patterns
Such patterns may show up year after year. Recognizing the pattern is the first step to realizing that patterns are the job of the person with the dysfunction to address. It is nearly impossible to “fix” the issue. The second step is to take inventory of your own patterns. A holiday gathering is not the place for dysfunctional pattern behavior. Avoid sarcasm. This is your chance to be the one to heal generational patterns by recognizing them and breaking the chain.
Why is gossip destructive? Gossip typically consists of half-truths. It is destructive because the person cannot defend themselves. Gossip undermines trust and is not helpful in any way. In fact, if you are surrounded by people who gossip, be assured that when you walk away, they will gossip about you. This is your opportunity to take the higher road and lead by example. Kindness, compassion, and understanding go a long way.
Judgment & Blame
These cause separation and lowers self-esteem. If there is an issue that needs to be worked out, it would be best to happen in a private setting. Perhaps take a walk in order to talk, or go to a back bedroom. The goal is fairness and to be a good listener.
The holidays are a wonderful time to bond and create memories. How we end the year may indicate the course of the new year. Most issues are not as important as the family. By following the five tips we’ve provided, you can be assured that there will be more harmony in your gatherings. Taking the higher road is a course of action that will result in higher conscious relationships.