“The nature of conflict means you can’t set a boundary in your life and take care of someone else’s feelings at the same time.”
— Martha Beck
During the holidays, some of us have a tendency to take on too much, and over commit ourselves by attending every event that we are invited to. Sometimes, this is because we are excited about the season and enjoy the merriment; while other times it is because we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, and want to avoid feeling guilty.
Only we can tell the difference within ourselves if we are pleasing ourselves or people pleasing others. If we are engaged in the latter, then it is time to buff up our boundaries by developing a stronger “no” muscle. This can be a particularly tough challenge in families where everyone is seen as one unit, and not a group of separate individuals with their own desires, preferences and interests.
However, no matter whom it is, if what we are being asked to do is not to our liking than we have the freedom to graciously decline the request. We need to remember that we are not responsible for other people’s feelings but are responsible for living our own lives as authentically as possible. So, when someone requests our time, financial help, or anything else, we can gently but decisively choose not to comply.
Certainly, we don’t want to put up walls or be confrontational, as that only demonstrates the very behavior we are trying to purge from our life. However, we also don’t want to deny our truth, and just go along with anything that is asked of us either. A passive approach to life can only breed resentment, and inevitably leads to unloving behavior which is inconsistent with the intention of harmonious living.
Setting loving boundaries with others is a crucial step in self-care, and so is setting nurturing boundaries with ourselves as well. Many of us push ourselves beyond the point of what is healthy such as neglecting to put parameters around the number of hours we work or by skimping on sleep.
Additionally, we may be making unhealthy food choices, eating on the run or neglecting to exercise regularly. Even critical thoughts about our appearance or having unrealistic expectations on ourselves for creating the perfect holiday and other endeavors, can sabotage our daily life.
Gratefully, we have the wonderful opportunity each day to create a new beginning, and write a new story with the enhanced choices we make. Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference to our overall enjoyment. The resultant good feelings that come from our kind attention will create a wonderful ripple effect both within and around us.
What wonderful choices are you making?
Today, write down the requests that are being asked of you, and decide which ones you genuinely want to accept and which ones you don’t. Awareness will lead to better choices.