Journaling Exercise: Boundary Setting

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It is so easy during the holidays to think excessively of other people. We’re buying gifts, visiting family, going to parties- it’s basically an introvert’s nightmare (ha, I’m kidding, I love people). It can be so easy to become wrapped up in expectations. I asked you a few weeks ago what’s been stressing you out about the holidays, and there were some themes. Many of you were worried about gift buying and having the money for them. Some were worried about family, work, and social pressures. Others are dreading the effect the holidays have on their kids schedules. 

Yet through all of the shopping, in-laws, and bad weather, it is important to remind ourselves that we can’t control the actions or thoughts of another person. However, we can control our own actions and we can take care of our needs and boundaries. So, take out a pen and paper and get it out!

Reflect

Start by writing it down. What are you struggling with right now? Is it work, other people, money, sleep, keeping a healthy lifestyle? Maybe you’re like me and working from home where the lines between work and play become a bit blurry. Maybe you just CANNOT with the Christmas cards this year. What is just not working for you in this moment and holding you back from joy?

Then ask yourself why this is an issue right now. Why are you struggling with your sibling or your in-laws? Why are you pissed off about the stranger that cut you off this morning? The answer may be a bit more complex than you realize, so really take your time to think about the deeper reason of your worry. Is it guilt? Shame? Fear? By identifying the “why,” it becomes easier to accept. Remember, the focus should be on YOU, not the other person or situation that you cannot control.

Plan

Write down what you want. What is your ideal situation? Does it require a person or situation to change, or can you change your actions, mindset, or outlook? Look at the difference between the two.

Now, identify ONE healthy boundary or intention that can make this situation better. Remember, this is about YOU alone. Write it down. If you’re struggling with money, perhaps it’s setting a budget for gifts or talking with your family or friends about financial expectations or alternatives. Do not punish yourself with this intention. It should come from a place of patience, grace, and love. 

Just writing this down can be powerful, but once you’ve identified your larger goal, break it down into smaller steps. Really prioritize yourself here. Brainstorm ways that put your self care first so that you can show up more fully in other areas of your life. Find out when and where you need to recharge. Remember that self care is not selfish.

Communicate

Finally, it’s important to communicate your needs. Make a list of people who should know about your boundary or intention, even if they are merely in a supportive role. I realize that your situation may be complicated, but communication of boundaries does not need to be confrontational. Keep the focus on your and your needs, use “I” statements, and come from a place of love. If you’ve done your best to explain yourself in a loving way, their reaction to this is their business. You cannot control it!

Go Forth and Be Merry

Revisit your reflections throughout this month to remind yourself of your needs and intentions. Work through your action steps and load up on self care. (Check out my blog post on tiny acts of self care to keep yourself in balance!) Let go of expectations on yourself and from others. Your experience this December is on you, so do yourself a favor and make of it what you truly want!

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