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Ask VJLAP? “How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Family During the Holidays?”

November 10, 2021
Ask VJLAP? “How to Set Healthy Boundaries with Family During the Holidays?”

The question: “How do I set and maintain healthy boundaries with toxic family members around holiday events.”

The answer:   The best thing to do, is ask yourself: “Do I want to spend time with this person/these people?” Then, listen for the answer inside yourself. Focus on your relationship, not just the time of year.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you close with this person/family member(s)?
  • Do they bring joy to your life?
  • Do you find yourself thinking your “should” see this person/family member(s)?
  • Are you planning to attend an event out of of a sense of duty, obligation, or being guilt?

Often there is a historically established pattern of behavior, and an expectation within yourself and others around attending certain holiday/family events. We often attend social activities because we “should.” Instead, ask yourself “Do you want to go?” If these are dreaded events, opt out, or offer to come by to see the person/family at another time. This is a way you can control your time and energy and have less stress around the holidays. You may even be able to relax and de-stress.

Being honest is key, not only to yourself, but others. Saying, “Thank you so much for the invitation. I would love to catch up but will not be able to make it. Is there another time we can get together?” Or if you simply do not want to see the person, just let them know you cannot be there, and remember you do not owe them an explanation.

If you find yourself in a unavoidable and stressful gathering, here are some tricks that can help you manage your feelings during the visit:

  • Have a person you can talk to or bring to the event, or on the phone to help you not get angered/upset/triggered
  • Give yourself a time limit to arrive and stay (always have an exit plan and a back-up exit plan)
  • Remember that holidays come around every year and there are lots of time outside of the holidays to see those you love. You get to decide who and when.
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