Boundaries Blog

Happy Holidays? Really?

Do you ever hear people say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays,” or “hope you enjoy your family get togethers during the holidays” and think, you must be joking? Is enjoying family time even a thing? Are there actually people who enjoy spending time with family?

It’s easy to think that pleasant family functions is that illusive unicorn that everyone longs to see one time in their life but you secretly know you never will, especially when all you’ve ever experienced is: drama, fighting, passive aggressive comments, excessive drinking, awkward/inappropriate family interactions or touching, dismissive messages, lack of inclusivity, judgments, never having a partner to bring, questions about life choices, the list goes on forever doesn’t it? We ALL have something we could add to this list and we could probably still always add more.

But yet….WE STILL ALWAYS GO! We still always interact. We still always engage, and we are still always let down. You go with hope and you leave feeling like a big pile of poo. WHY? Why do they ALWAYS do this? Why do you ALWAYS feel this way? Why do they always seem to know exactly what to say to cut you deeper than anyone else? Why do they always have the ability to shrink you down to an inch tall with one look? Why does one touch make your entire body crawl? Why does one question seem to pin point all of the things that sum up your negative self dialogue? Can they hear you? Is it obvious? Does everyone else think I’m a failure too, do they all see that piece of spinach in my teeth, is everyone else wondering why I’m still single?

Family has a unique ability to make you either feel the best about yourself or the worst, and it can be subtle or it can be extremely loud and inappropriate and said to the whole group (you know that nightmare, where you’re standing in front of everyone naked and everyone’s starring and all of your worst fears are on display for the world to see). That is family! They know you’re most sensitive trigger points, they know that before you lost all of that weight and got your dream job and dream partner that you struggled with your weight.

They know that before landing your promotion at the early age of 21 you stuttered when having to speak in public. Family has the ability to diminish all of your current successes and wins, and in one comment reduce you back to that 8 year old version of yourself that you hated. So, if after reading all of this, you’re still with me, and you find yourself nodding your head, and saying yes or even perhaps a very loud AMEN, and feeling like for the first time ever there is someone on the other side of this blog that not only gets you and your experiences but has perhaps lived them too, the next natural question is “but what do I do about it?”

It’s nice to have someone that gets you, it’s even better to feel like you aren’t alone, but this can’t be all there is can there? This can’t be what the picture of the rest of my life, with family, is going to look like, is it?

Well, my friend, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and unlike the mythical creature that has yet to be verified, this light DOES exist. There is in fact a very real, very attainable solution. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel called BOUNDARIES. Yes we’ve all heard of them, some cringe, some tuck it aside and don’t give it a second thought, some seize boundaries like the bull by the horns and they just put their head down and bull doze through the china shop and as a result they leave a trail of destruction and burned bridges in their wake, while others try the whole passive aggressive thing and hope the subtle messages are received and no more explanation is necessary.

While there are many approaches to boundaries, these will all end up failing unfortunately. You can have healthy boundaries or you can have unhealthy boundaries. If the goal is healthy boundaries (which builds and maintains bridges) they will not work if they are not done correctly. They are great in theory but if not properly executed you miss the mark, as well as the benefits and the value of healthy boundaries.

Important things to keep in mind and consider when instituting boundaries:


This is SO SO SO important. In order for boundaries to be successful they must be planned for ahead of time.


Boundaries and emotions DO NOT go together. Boundaries come from a place of logic. You cannot create boundaries when you are clouded by emotions. Wait for them to pass, breathe, remove yourself from the situation so you can think clearly and then think about what it is you need and how you are going to make those changes happen in a healthy, logical way,

3) Consistency. Boundaries DO NOT work if you are inconsistent.

If you implement your boundaries 90% of the time, and forget or don’t have the courage to enforce them, just 10% of the time, it might not seem like a lot, but 100% YOU WILL NOT BE SUCCESSFUL! You must stick to your boundaries 100% of the time or the people they are in place for will not respect or take them seriously, they will be confused and all of that hard work you have put into them will be for nothing.

4) Your boundaries will NOT be well received. Be prepared for kick back.

The people who need the boundaries the most will not understand why you are making them, they won’t respect them and they will challenge them 100%! Be prepared to fight for them. Do not make exceptions. Do not make excuses. When implementing new boundaries have a contingency plan of what you will do/say for when those people challenge or question your boundaries. Be strong! Stick to your plan. Remember why you are doing this and what the importance/value of them is.


The clear communication comes either before the interaction or first thing when you arrive (if this is possible. There are some scenarios where unfortunately clarity will not be possible and emotional boundaries will need to be used instead). NEVER ASSUME you can just act differently and the other person/people will be able to read your mind and understand what is going on (ie. Boundaries are now in place.

Everyone will notice my different behaviour and will understand that I’m implementing boundaries). You need to communicate them. This is the hard part, but this is the necessary part. Be brave, zip up that armour and march into battle with your tools for success.

You walk in the door and you say whatever it is you want to say “I’m really trying to turn over a new leaf with my relationship with food and my weight so I’m going to ask that everyone not reference or talk about that with me today. I know you all love me and really care about my success, so I really appreciate all of your support already. (and then the important part)

If….then… IF….THEN!!! there is always the IF, THEN statement. If you do talk about it, then I will change the topic. If you say something about my weight, then I will walk away. If you bring me a plate of goodies, then I will get up and leave. There is a lot in here that can/should be changed and tailored as needed (hence the need for potentially setting up a discovery call for coaching around this because 1 size does not fit all and there are innumerable dynamics and scenarios with innumerable backgrounds and histories that can make things sticky and complex.) You might not always be able to be nice, you might not always be able to communicate it. You might not always be able to use such positive wording.

Holiday get togethers can be an extremely difficult, emotional and hurtful time. But at least you can choose the terms of engagement and can create tools for success going into them. They can be a bit clunky at first, but do not be discouraged. Boundaries are like muscles, everyone has them, some are weaker than others starting out, but with a little work and effort EVERYONE can strengthen and grow them. Boundaries are a tool that will benefit you in every area of your life. Don’t give up if at first you don’t succeed. KEEP TRYING! And for extra help and guidance book a discovery call with me to really carve out that tailored plan of success for you.

Merry Christmas, Happy holidays, and may your boundaries be tight and merry and bright,

Erin, Clarity Coaching

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