Holiday boundaries are not new to me. It took some years to not feel guilty about them. And even today I sometimes let the guilt in to sit a moment. Then I remember: It doesn’t have to be about them right now! Look around you! Your world feels like it’s continually spiraling and you’re growing extra limbs just to keep going! You don’t owe shit to anybody else, Jess.
You are allowed to have boundaries!
Boundaries have a way of setting you free. They allow you to truly live in the life you are designing for yourself. You can let go of toxic obligations and cot out harsh judgements from others. Boundaries can get act as a refuge when the world doesn’t feel safe.
Learning to set boundaries was hard, and I did it in stages.
I started small. For instance, I made a conscious decision many years ago to never play a family game. You see, my family is ferociously competitive regardless of the cards on the table or dice being thrown. I have too many childhood memories of crying while losing another close game of Monopoly to my dad. For some reason, it was always him and me at the end. On one hand it made me feel like the best player, as if my dad was the ultimate competition – which he was.
So, in my little girl brain, I felt it would win me his love if I could prove myself with this one game. Now, this isn’t a thought road I had back then. But it makes sense as motivation for me to care so deeply about winning. Even still, every time we played I would lose the game.
To be honest I may have won some games – statistically I must have. I just don’t remember today. The losses are what plays on repeat in my head. And I hate it. The feeling of losing sucks. Making the situation worse are the biting comments we throw at each other, all in the name of “healthy” competition.
So, long story short I started with the simple boundary of refusing to play family games at any time.
And to be honest, it was weird. For everyone. I was called out for not playing and I even felt so bad that I almost decided to play. But I didn’t. The result was a more enjoyable holiday gathering. It turns out gaming added a significant stress to family get togetherness.
I think healthy boundaries will look a little different for everyone.
Understanding your triggers is a helpful tool in deciding where to begin with setting up your own boundaries.
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Email Jessica B. your questions: Jessica@jessicaleighbiles.com