While learning and practicing boundary-setting skills, I noticed one area where I would routinely trip myself up.
And once I knew what to look for, I noticed that other people seemed to really struggle with this, too.
Let me explain with an example…
One Thanksgiving, I was stressing about an upcoming family gathering, and every time I tried to get clear on what I needed, my thoughts felt like a tangled, wet ball of yarn.
My mind would jump from one stressor to the next…
…anxiously landing on potentially difficult dinner-table interactions, sleeping arrangements, long-distance drives, being around family members I didn’t feel comfortable with, and on and on it went.
I knew that simply walking into the family gathering blind, without considering how I could make the experience more manageable for myself, was a recipe for disaster.
But I was having a hell of a time getting clear on what I needed for some reason.
It suddenly occurred to me…
…that I was trying to “solve” the entire trip in one go, attempting to find the magic wand to make all of my anxiety disappear.
No wonder it felt so confusing and impossible!
I got out my journal and began listing all of the concerns that had been kicking around in my head.
– How I want to respond if someone makes passive-aggressive comments about my not being in contact more often.
– How to get chunks of alone time throughout the weekend, so I’m not feeling maxed out with socializing.
– How to handle the drive, so I’m not going straight from a 7-hour car trip into interacting with my family.
– How I want to respond when someone says we should get together more, and I’m not interested in doing that.
From there, I was able to brainstorm how to deal with these concerns one-by-one, rather than letting them spin out into a tornado of overwhelm.
To address some of my concerns…
…I wrote up a simple, one- or two-sentence script on an index card of how I’d like to reply, and I looked at it a couple times before and during the trip.
This helped me feel grounded in the knowing that I wouldn’t have to think on my feet, which quelled the anxious thought loops where I would play out potentially stressful interactions on repeat.
For instance, if someone said, “Geez, we hardly ever see you anymore!” in a guilt-laden tone…
…my simple script was, “It’s good to see you now,” before changing the topic, instead of feeling like I was required to go into a long-winded defense of my choices.
My notes also helped me see that I needed to book a hotel room rather than staying with my family, because this gave me a place to decompress after the drive…
…as well as being my hermit hole where I could recharge every morning and night, making time for my usual journaling and meditation, so I wasn’t ditching self-care practices when I needed them most.
Taking the time to break down situations with a lot of moving parts…
…so you can get clear on what you need, is an incredibly effective way to take really great care of yourself.
It helps you parse out ways that you can easily meet your own needs with a bit of prep work, and where you might need to communicate what you need to others.
Tomorrow, doors close for Get Free: A Course in Setting Boundaries.
In just one month, you’ll learn straightforward and very doable strategies for getting clear on what you need…
…communicating those needs to others in a way that feels kind and authentic to you…
…and navigating challenging situations, like people crossing or arguing with your boundaries.
And if you’ve already learned boundary-setting strategies, but they feel too challenging to actually use in real-life situations…
…the first part of the class is all about how to manage intense emotions,
reprogram old patterns,
and get yourself out of limiting thought loops…
…so that boundary setting feels manageable and actionable.
Ready to get started?