People can be so diligent about their boundary and intention setting during the year, yet a lot of that work seems to take a back seat during the holiday season. Boundaries are replaced by the automatic patterns of people-pleasing, image management, appeasement, obligation, expectation, and shoulds. (As a quick tip, none of the latter are helpful for mental and emotional wellbeing!).
How come this is the case? Does it even matter? Not really, but a lot of it is what was written in the first paragraph about these patterns being automatic. That means that they are still our default and go-to settings, even as we work at changing them. Therefore, in times of stress, familiar situations, and high risk environments, it is quite likely that our brain defaults to what it knows rather than what is still newer.
With this being the case, it is important for people to be mindful and aware of this risk and be diligent about maintaining a health plan and boundaries during the holiday season. Preparing now what your self-care schedule is going to be is helpful, being very thoughtful and considerate about what invitations you accept and decline is also helpful. Most helpful is being attuned to your natural feelings and intuition about where you want to go, who with, and how you want to take care of yourself and honouring this. Acknowledge the chatter of obligation but do not engage with it. Treat it like a bad smell- you’re definitely aware that it’s there but you’re not going to spend your time dissecting it, following it, or trying to figure out where it came from.
The holidays can be hard but, with boundaries, they don’t have to be.
For more information on boundaries at any time of year, visit my other blog post.
By Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist and founder of www.holisticpsychologycalgary.com