Setting Boundaries During the Holiday Season

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Heading into the holiday season can bring with it a multitude of conflicting feelings, particularly when caregivers or other family members were the source of painful or invalidating experiences. I often find clients struggling with exploring their own needs and boundaries with their families, or feeling guilty when they do. These struggles and difficulties are often amplified during this time of year.

It is normal to have multiple and conflicting feelings about our experiences and relationships. Yet, the expectations of connectedness that is portrayed in the media messaging around the holiday season can create a sense that conflicting or painful feelings are abnormal or somehow wrong. It is not wrong nor a reflection of who you are as a person to want to protect yourself from harmful relationships by increasing your boundaries and limiting or not spending time with those who have contributed to your experiences of harm. It is important that you are tuned into these needs and work toward identifying the right balance and boundary for you in your relationships, not what the holiday season is “supposed to” mean or look.

Identifying and setting boundaries can sometimes feel awkward or even scary at times and it can be
hard to not second guess this, especially when responses from others may not always be supportive. If
you need some guidance about what this could look like when questioning yourself or your boundary
needs, a helpful resource for guidance about healthy and effective boundaries is the Instagram of Nedra
Glover Tawwab @nedratawwab, author of Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself.


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Michelle Horner, PsyD

Michelle specializes in the treatment of complex trauma in adolescents and adults. Her approach to treatment involves a collaborative, relational approach as a foundation for building trust and safety in the therapeutic… Read More