People getting together. Eating. Sharing memories and love. Good times.
Sometimes not ever.
Imagine a small house. A tiny one. It hosts 10 people, then 3 dogs who are afraid of people. Next, bring in a kid with a tree nut allergy. And another one with sensory issues, followed by another one who “sees” angels and a pair of girls under the age of 9 riding bouncy balls slamming into the floors. Imagine blood sugar levels rising and plummeting with candy, random eating schedules and more candy. Adults drinking liquid candy. Loudness and increasing loudness rule the day and dogs pee in protest. Kids creating havoc, adults turn blind eyes One kid almost eats a deadly tree nut cookie. Almost. By the end of the holidaze, everyone is frazzled, twisted, fried and …
I found peace and happiness.
Did I meditated or medicate for 24 hours?
Not at all.
I wasn’t there.
And it was awesome.
I wasn’t there because I had already scheduled my appointments and plans weeks in advanced. Our out of town family couldn’t pinpoint their schedules because they were all in flux. We told them of my prior commitments. When they were ready to come over, I said my quick hello and let my husband take over the roost. I honored my commitments to myself, my guests were gracious to spend what time they could with us and that was that. That was pure happiness.
The old me would have been wrangling the tangle of other people’s expectations.I would have cancelled my plans including my doctor’s visits to accommodate them. The rickety old me would have gladly served them and made sure all their needs were met. The rickety, old, ancient me would have smiled the entire way until they left.
Then like my frazzled and agitated dogs, I would have peed on the floor out of anger. Not at my guests, but because I didn’t take care of myself or my boundaries. And now, I didn’t have the time.
You’ve experienced this old world before, haven’t you?
When the holidays roll, it’s really hard to accommodate everyone’s schedules. It can become a tangled mess. This is true of even just of daily life. So how do you manage to stay alive or even thrive when holidays are in the mix, emotional expectations are high and so is guilt?
And that tangle of expectations and guilt can really get your tinsel in a tangle.
So here’s how to wrangle that tangle and round up happiness.
It’s boundaries, baby.
Boundaries are essential to life like breathing, eating, and sleeping. But they are also a skill set. Some of us may have learned along the way. But most of us didn’t find how to create and set boundaries consistently and now in our life we encounter many situations that are begging us to learn this skill.
Okay not begging, screaming.
Boundaries simply mean having an awareness of your personal limits. This includes everything – physically, emotionally, mentally, socially, financially, and spiritually.
So let’s get to getting’.
Here are 5 ways to Create Boundaries of Happiness
- Draw the Line
First step is to take a moment to think and explore places in your life that you know you need to create boundaries.
For example, you know you never would step in a car of a person who has drunk too much eggnog and is driving on 3 spare tires. Even if it’s Santa in a cowboy hat. That’s a no brainer. That’s a boundary.
But think about the other subtler things in life like:
-When you are always paying your fair share and someone doesn’t
-When you are always there for a loved one or lover and they are not
-When at work, you carry more than your load, and your co-worker does not
-When you keep your promises and others do not
-When you always say “yes” and you mean “no”
- Do the time
Step two is quicker and easier because you have already identified the places where you could use boundaries. Do the time and reflect how these situations make you feel. Feeling sad because you didn’t set boundaries with a friend or lover is a different sensation than feeling angry because a coworker didn’t make copies or finish a proposal. It’s important to identify these feelings because the words you will use to create these boundaries will be different. But the result of the follow through will both lead to happiness and peace for honoring yourself. So reflect and call out those feelings. Feel to deal, not to conceal.
- Tow the Line
Step three is being direct and let people know what you need without the guilt. By creating the words ahead of time of what you would say will help you when the hot moment arrives and you feel your boundaries have been crossed. You don’t have to be a screaming banshee or dictator, you can just let people know what you need. State your claim, tell them what you need. Or if the event has already taken place, you can simply let them know for next time.
For example you can say things like:
-I’m glad you want to visit. I want to visit as well, but I need more time to plan in advance.
-Now that this proposal is done, here’s what I need next time….
-I really like to help you but I can’t help you at this time. Thank you for asking.
-Thank you for all the interesting gifts. Next year, let’s just give to charity and spend time together.
By stating what you need and not creating the blame game, your boundaries emerge stronger and easier for others to respond to, as opposed to react to.
- Create Awareness
Like most things, it’s important to see if what you are doing is working. Are you experiencing the benefits for creating boundaries? Do you notice yourself less stressed? Is the other person at peace or resentful or withdrawing? When you start to create boundaries and stand up for yourself, it can make others uncomfortable because it represents change. This is where you step in and do a temperature check. If your’re creating boundaries, and it feels aligned to who you are, and gives you peace, then keep doing it. If others don’t like it, then realize what is in your control and not. If you stated your boundaries in a snarky way, then yes, you can control the tone and delivery of your request.
If people are angry or resentful of your requests, then let them be to figure it out. After a while of putting this into practice, you will be able to see, “is it me or them?”
- Create Small Consistency
The last step is like everything else in life. You must create consistency to develop this lifelong skill. If it’s too much for you to create boundaries with certain people in your life, then start with yourself. If you’re working on getting to a healthy weight, start with creating a boundary of only eating 2 cookies instead of 10. Then work up from there. If you have a family member who is negative an always brings you down when you speak with them after talking for them for an hour, reduce it to 30 minutes. If you always stay 2 hours late at work everyday, then reduce it to one and honor your boundaries.
In the end you will have created a productive way to untangle other’s expectations by creating boundaries. By reinforcing them you will be able to honor yourself and others and wrangle that tangle. Now, giddy up. Namaste.