By Melissa Coats
True Connection Tuesday
One of the most important aspects of a healthy and fulfilling relationship is boundaries. And boundaries are challenging at any time of the year, but they are incredibly challenging during the holiday season. Many times, the “shoulds” take over, and we start to feel guilty for saying no to our loving families who, of course, only have the best of intentions in mind. Well, sometimes.
Boundaries help protect our mental and emotional health. Many people were raised to put other’s needs before their own. However, when you continually move your needs to the back burner, you suffer, and you don’t get to connect with others in a fulfilling and energy-boosting way. Instead, it can feel like a chore. The holidays are no exception!
As we are trying to navigate this year with COVID-19, I have found that people learn how to set their boundaries with greater ease. Since we are amid a global pandemic, it is making it easier for people to say “no” and be clear about their willingness to participate in activities that may compromise their health and safety. Because we have many healthcare professionals begging us to take precautions, it feels like we have permission this year to set boundaries around the holidays.
My hope is that we will take this attitude toward boundaries and apply it just as fervently to our mental and emotional health. We are allowed to give ourselves permission to prioritize our mental well-being. And if that is too difficult to consider, for now, no problem! Consider this your permission from a mental health counselor to prioritize your emotional needs this year!
Here’s a good tip when it comes to boundaries…
Many people try to tell others what they should do as a way of setting a boundary. The problem is, we don’t have control over other’s actions, only our own. And when we tell someone what to do, and they don’t do it, we only end up frustrated. So here is a new way to try this.
“You really need to wear masks this year to Thanksgiving dinner.”
“If you choose not to wear masks and social distance this year, we are just going to do our own thing here. But thank you for the invitation.”
Instead of telling someone else what to do, you let them know what you will do if they make a particular choice.
I hope this is helpful to you and that you have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
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