Nancy: If you choose to verbalize a boundary, you must be sure that you are going to hold it because we teach people how to treat us, and if you are not prepared to hold your boundary, you’re going to cause more harm than good, if you choose to name it out loud. Nothing will dismantle a boundary faster and nothing will dismantle your self-esteem and integrity faster than verbally expressing a boundary out loud and not holding it.
Nancy: Welcome to Your Permission Prescription. I’m Nancy Levin, founder of Levin Life Coach Academy, bestselling author, master life coach, and your host. I train life coaches, aspiring coaches, and anyone who wants to add coaching skills to their current career to elevate their life and their business. I’ve coached thousands of people to live life on their own terms, and now I coach, train, and certify other coaches to do the same.
If you are ready to give yourself permission to finally make yourself a priority and mobilize your vision, you are in the right place. Let’s dive in.
Nancy: Welcome back. So happy that you have decided to join me for this timely conversation. With the holidays just around the corner, I thought it would be great to have a bit of discussion about how to set healthy boundaries and hold them during the holidays even with your family.
So let’s first take a look at the way I’m talking about boundaries here, the way that I define them. Your boundaries are the limits you set around what you will or will not do, will or will not tolerate and will or will not accept. So your boundaries are very personal. Your boundaries are between you and you. Your boundaries are up to you to set and up to you to hold. So it’s not up to anyone else to respect or honor or maintain your boundaries. It’s up to you. So if your boundaries are being crossed, you are the one crossing your own boundaries. And what this does is automatically move you out of the space of blame and victimhood and into the space of responsibility and empowerment.
So boundaries are profoundly important. And if you think about them as walls or if you think about them as being restrictive or constrictive or depriving, I invite you to open up to the idea that boundaries are expansive. Boundaries are the way we carefully choose and consciously curate the content of our own lives.
And so boundaries are the way we maintain our integrity and sense of self. During the holidays when we come together with others, most often family, the lines can feel blurred and we can feel pulled in multiple directions. But remember, your boundaries are not about keeping people out, but rather letting our true selves in.
As we’re talking about boundaries, it’s important to remember that a boundary is not telling someone else what they must or must not do. So a boundary is not a directive, it’s not telling someone you can’t do that. A boundary is an expression of what’s okay and not okay for you.
So a boundary, if you choose to verbalize it, begins with “I”. I’ll share some examples a little bit later, but it’s important to know that as we’re moving into this holiday time with family, family dynamics are going to be present. And in many of our families there are unspoken rules or roles or expectations. And in fact, they might not only be unspoken, they might be very spoken. So we might feel that familiar impulse to revert back to our childhood roles or feel the pressure to conform to familial expectations. And this can be especially stifling if we are already living on our own out in the world. So the holidays amplify these dynamics. So it’s really time here to give ourselves permission to grow, to evolve, and to step out of these outdated roles. When we are setting boundaries, it’s important to remember that this is a journey, it’s a process and it takes practice.
So I offer some guidance to you. One piece is around self-awareness. Know your limits. As I said before, your boundaries are your own limits around what you will or will not do, what you will or will not accept or tolerate. So you need to know your own limits. What’s okay with you, what’s not okay with you? What’s appropriate, what’s inappropriate? Where are you feeling resentful? This is really key since resentment rising is a telltale sign that a boundary needs to be put into place.
And when you’re recognizing resentment rising in response to someone else inside of a relationship, it’s essential to assess for yourself, how are you crossing your own boundaries in order to stay in the relationship? Does the relationship remaining intact require you to cross your own boundaries? Because remember, the goal of a relationship is not harmony at all cost, because harmony at all costs comes at a very high cost to you.
So again, self-awareness, really important, clear communication. Now, not every boundary needs to be verbalized. And in fact, I would say most boundaries do not need to be verbalized since they’re between you and you.
If you choose to verbalize a boundary, you must be sure that you are going to hold it because we teach people how to treat us, and if you are not prepared to hold your boundary, you’re going to cause more harm than good, if you choose to name it out loud. Nothing will dismantle a boundary faster and nothing will dismantle your self-esteem and integrity faster than verbally expressing a boundary out loud and not holding it.Consistency is key. When setting boundaries, you want to consistently stay in alignment with what is most important to you.
So stick to your boundaries, the more consistent you are, the clearer the message. And I don’t necessarily mean the message to others because this is really about reinforcing what’s most important to you.
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Nancy: Let’s talk a little bit about handling resistance. So if you experience pushback, which is natural because when we change the system around us, in this case, our family, can feel the shift and they may feel resistant. When we are making changes in our lives, it can often hold up a mirror to those around us who are not evolving and they see the reflection of themselves not growing in the face of our growth. Their investment is keeping things as they’ve been and here we come along changing the rules of engagement.
So if we experience pushback, and again, this can happen whether we have verbalized a boundary or not, and it might happen at the table around food, it might be pushback around why you are eating something or aren’t eating something, let’s say. All we need to do is come back to a mantra of truth for ourselves. It’s okay for others to be uncomfortable with my choices. My responsibility is to my own wellbeing. It’s okay for others to be uncomfortable with my choices. My responsibility is to my own wellbeing. Remember, it is not your responsibility to manage someone else’s response to your truth.
So let’s walk through a couple common scenarios. So perhaps a relative keeps prying into your personal life. A very simple response can be, “I understand you’re curious, but I’d prefer to talk about something else. I understand you’re curious, I’m not ready to talk about something so private”. So again, it’s keeping the boundary in the “I”. I am not comfortable. Instead of pointing a finger and saying something like, stop asking me about my personal life. This is not about telling someone else what to do.
Another scenario might be pressure that you experience to attend every family event. And a boundary could be, “I cherish our time together but need to balance my commitments. I won’t be attending everything, but when I’m there, I will be a hundred percent present.” So again, keeping it on me, not pointing a finger saying, you invite me to too many things, or you prepare too many events around a holiday. Simply expressing,”I need to manage my energy and my commitments. Here are the events I will attend and I will be there fully when I’m there”.
So these are just a few ways in which you can begin to shift your thinking about the ways to respond. And important things to remember are just because someone asks you a question doesn’t mean you need to answer it with a response that will satisfy them. So like the question about if a relative keeps prying into your personal life, it’s in your best interest to answer in a way that serves you best instead of satisfying their curiosity.
And all of this really funnels into prioritizing your own self-care. So amidst festivities, remember to prioritize yourself. It is essential, essential. Whether it’s taking a walk, meditating, sitting with a cup of tea and your journal. Give yourself the gift of time and space even when, especially when, you are surrounded by family. This is not a time to let your daily non-negotiable practices slip. In fact, this is the time and opportunity to double down on them.
So a reminder here that boundaries are a continuous journey of love and respect for yourself and for others. It’s never an either/or, it’s always a both/and. And the better care you take of yourself, the more available you will become for what is true for you in your relationships.
So carry forward this holiday season with the spirit of understanding and compassion and always create the space for who you are right now and who you are becoming, to be present at the table.
I’m thrilled that you join me today and I offer you wishes of strength to honor your boundaries this holiday season. And until we’re together next, I send you lots of love. See you next time.
Thanks so much for joining me today on Your Permission Prescription. For even more, I invite you to head on over to nancylevin.com and sign up for my newsletter, The Practice, and follow me on social media.
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