By Lorena Reynoso-Singh
The holidays are just around the corner, are you dreading seeing certain family members that press your buttons?
Is the idea of visiting people you love for the holidays dragged down by the idea of having to interact with that one out of bounds person that always manages to get under your skin and derail your good time?
It doesn’t help that the holidays already pass us by in a marathon flurry of rushed purchasing, decorating, wrapping, cooking and an exorbitant sugar intake
What if this year was different?
Include Self-Care In Your Holiday Planning
What if in the same way you planned for just the right wreath for your door, just the right presents for each and every person you love and just the right lights for your tree, you also plan in advance the care for your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing when managing interacting with those difficult people?
What if you didn’t have to experience being a deer stuck in the headlights once again with a boundary-crossers’ un-welcomed remarks? What if you can plan for more enjoyment, ease, fun and connecting BEFORE the holidays?
You might have engaged in an argument in the past or quietly tolerated what you consider the intolerable and left resentful and exhausted.
Both don’t work to move the situation towards the real spirit of the holidays.
3 Lists That Will Change it All
Consciously creating better boundaries has been an ongoing journey for most of my adult life. I have much more peace around this area than in years past because it’s something I’ve been intentionally focusing on changing on a regular basis. What has worked for me has been to first get clear on where I stand with what I want and don’t want. From there I can set intentions to change my behavior since that really is the only thing I can control. I have done this through lists
I start by thinking of what social experiences I have repeatedly had in the past that I don’t want to repeat. I then make a list of what I want more of in my holiday social experiences and lastly make a list of plan B options that will redirect my behavior towards what I want and away from what I don’t want.
Why This Works
It can be sticky to not let ourselves get caught up in the emotion that those resilience testers stir up in us and join in the mire with them. It’s easier though when we’re crystal clear on what we want more of and what we will not tolerate in order to move closer to that.
If you are facing a similar dreaded social situation, I invite you to consider trying this list approach and take control of your holiday season. Below are examples of my 3 lists.
1.) List of what I don’t want this holiday season
- Unwelcome teasing
- Entertaining and contributing to gossip
2.) List of what I want more of this holiday season
- Genuine interactions of connection
- More whole foods
- More hugs
- More sharing stories
- More complimenting and encouraging
- Solitude and quiet breaks
My Self Care Plan B’s
Now that I know what I want and don’t want I can review what have been all the sticky points in the past and plan in advance what plan B’s I can have in place before they happen. Putting thought into a plan gives me a focal point to continually redirect my thoughts and behaviors towards as I’m in the social event.
Application of Plan B Example:
I have an aunt that likes to have as the topic of conversation my weight and my un-Catholic spiritual practices (I.e. meditation, yoga, chanting etc.) in a critical light.
My plan b’s that keep my thoughts and behavior in the direction of what I want (remember genuine interactions of connection, laughter etc.) are:
1.) Redirect conversations with plan B sentences like:
I love you tia (aunt in Spanish) but my body and how I choose to connect with God is not up for negotiation. I would love to know though…
- How your rose garden weathered the dry spell this past summer
- How your spring vacation went
- How you’re enjoying your new grandchildren
- What your best memory is of abuela (grandma in Spanish) before she passed this past winter
2.) Redirect my own frustration in case she doesn’t accept my invite to detour the conversation:
- Offer to take out the garbage to give myself a breather and some distance from the situation while being of service (there’s always garbage at a social gathering)
- Go to the bathroom and have a self-care break with breathing and stretching exercises
- Call a loved one in advance that I love being around that understands and ask for their help in inviting me away from the sticky interaction and into a different circle of conversations.
- Bring a game of some sort that I think people would opt in to play and offer it to get the ball rolling in changing the social dynamics
Clarity Makes it Easier
Boundaries can be hard when there has already been a set pattern throughout the years of certain kinds of interactions between you and the other person. I have found that accepting what stresses me out helps I identify my limits so I can then work with them.
Saying no to boundary crossing interactions is easier when there’s clarity about our deeper yes. It’s freeing to be able to be ourselves in social situations without having to worry about our emotional safety. In saying no to those insensitive interactions, we say yes to those that nourish us. This is possible when we make it clear to those around us what we will not tolerate and what we will wholeheartedly contribute to.
Lorena is a writer, teacher and mother of an active 7-year old. Find out more out her passion for creating morning routines that transform habits and live