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As the holidays are quickly approaching, some of us may be feeling anxious or concerned about certain family members we may encounter—those family members that we may lack healthy boundaries with. Family dynamics can be difficult, especially if we come from dysfunction. Years of toxicity, unhealed trauma, triggering events, and hurtful words may flash before your eyes the moment you make holiday plans to reunite. Somehow, we are expected to push past those things and show up to their house with a smile on our face and a sweet potato casserole.

The concept of family boundaries may seem scary or even unrealistic, but the truth is that boundaries serve to protect us. Learning to say “no” to what no longer works for us may be the best direction for growth, even if others may not like it.

You also do not need to explain or justify yourself. If you have been putting yourself last for years, if you know that being around certain family members will cause you harm, this year may be the year to push for positive change.

Some phrases that can help you start setting healthy boundaries with others include:

  • “I’m unable to attend this year. Hope you all have a good time!”

  • “I will not allow you to continue to be treat me this way.”

  • “I wish I could, but I have so much on my plate right now.”

  • “I’d like to help you, but I’m not available for that request.”

  • “Unfortunately, that won’t work for me.”

  • “This is not working for me and I am going to need to leave now.”

  • “I am not feeling like this conversation is productive. I need to step away to process on my own.”

  • “I don’t like disappointing you, but my answer still has to be no.”

  • “I am not comfortable with this topic of conversation.”

We know setting boundaries can feel uncomfortable. Many of us have been conditioned to have no boundaries, especially with family members. Taking steps towards healthy boundaries may also leave us feeling guilty, especially as those family members lash back or shame us for attempting to assert ourselves. The process can be painful, but this is a huge step towards a healthier relationship with yourself and others. If you feel like you are struggling with setting healthy boundaries, if the upcoming holiday season is causing you anguish, or if you would like to explore what advocating for yourself looks like, then please reach out to schedule a consult here at 253 Therapy and Consult. We are here for you!

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