How boundaries help us have healthy emotions
Holiday gatherings bring lots of opportunities to practice setting boundaries! But what exactly is a boundary and how do we set them in healthy ways? I can't consider this topic without thinking of my dear friend, Stephanie, who is my own personal "Boundary Lady", so I asked her to send me one of her favorite podcasts that might help explain what she teaches so brilliantly.
Melissa Urban, who is the guest on this Live Happy Now Podcast is the co-founder of the Whole 30 program and has a book that includes over 130 scripts you can use for different boundary challenging situations.
She explains that boundaries don't tell others what to do, they tell them what you are willing to do. Boundaries are actions you are going to take to keep yourself safe and healthy.
How do we know if we need to set a boundary? In the podcast she helps us think about situations that we dread and people we want to avoid. Most likely these are opportunities to create a boundary.
I found this podcast incredibly helpful and plan to purchase the book. Stephanie says it's great!
Here's an example of a situation I am dreading and how I plan to set the expectation of a boundary in advance.
Family gatherings can bring out our political differences so I plan to contact everyone before the gathering.
"We all think and believe differently. Can we agree to leave the tv off and avoid talking about anything related to politics? I think this will allow us to enjoy each other and maybe focus on what we do have in common."
Melissa says it's important to set the boundary ahead of the gathering and get buy-in. In her book she describes this as a green level boundary.
But what if my Dad turns the tv to a news channel?
"Hey, Daddy - we agreed to not have the news on today but I can find some Alan Jackson Christmas music if you want."
This is a yellow level boundary that will hopefully remind him of our agreement.
If he refuses (I don't think he will) then I get to do what makes me feel safe and healthy. I can walk outside, go to a different room or even leave the gathering. This is an example of a red level boundary.
Hopefully we don't have to get to that point because we have communicated in advance but whether the boundaries are respected by others or not, I still have a way to take care of myself.
I love that we get to model healthy. I was reminded this week that my parents were not raised to understand the concept of boundaries and I can't expect them to automatically think like I do, but I can model the healthy tools I have found. I can also be open to my kids when they share things that I am clueless about. We get to learn from each other!
Check out the podcast and let me know if you need help setting a boundary this Holiday season. If you choose to purchase the book from the link in the photo above, I will receive a small amount of money as an Amazon Affiliate. All proceeds will go into a fund that allows me to counsel people who can't afford my services.