Holiday Survival Guide: Your Sacred Ground
by Kaela Prall
Setting—and keeping—boundaries is hard work, especially for those of us whose primary concern has always been for the well-being and happiness of others. We want others to have a good time and feel loved and cared for. How do we manage our boundaries in a way that does not allow the emotions and experiences of others to dictate how we’re feeling and what we’re experiencing?
Stay in Your Hula Hoop:
I’m terrible at hula-hooping. It goes around once or twice then falls to the floor. It’s good for a laugh, but certainly not something I can be proud of. In spite of this tragic shortcoming, I love using the idea of a hula hoop when talking about boundaries.
Imagine you’re inside a hula hoop, right in the center of it. Everything inside the hula hoop is yours. Your thoughts, emotions, experiences—all of those are yours. And everything outside the hula hoop? Not yours. The moment you feel yourself reaching outside this imaginary hula hoop to manage someone else’s emotions or experiences, you know you’re overstepping your boundaries. The opposite is also true: anytime someone tries to reach inside your space to manage or control you, you get to say no.
Some people prefer other metaphors like “Take care of your side of the street” or “mind your own business.” Whatever visual you choose, the idea is the same: Focus on yourself.
Stay in The Present:
Holidays are exhausting. There are parties and shopping trips and cooking and an endless parade of people. Embrace it and be present. If we’re not careful, every experience will pass by in a blur. Don’t worry about what people are thinking of you or that long list of anxiety-inducing things that will probably never happen. Immerse yourself in the moment, the conversation, the people around you, the details you would normally overlook–every moment belongs to you. Enjoy it.
Let Your Boundaries Bend:
One of my favorite things to say to my 4-year-old is “You can change your mind.” This is mostly because it reminds me that she has the right to change her mind—even if it feels like the hundredth time she’s changed her clothes or ran to get another toy to take to school. It’s also because I want her to remember that she doesn’t have to stick with something if she suddenly realizes it’s not right for her.
You may have overcommitted this holiday season. Too many parties. Too many gifts. Too much time away from responsibilities. Not enough sleep. Not enough time to process and take care of yourself. It’s okay to take a step back and say no. It okay if you realize you’re overbooked and you need more time to rest. It’s also okay to say yes to new things. You get to decide how flexible your boundaries need to be in order to stay healthy and in tune with yourself. Boundaries are not walls, but are more like the hula hoop—bendy and able to expand and contract as you need them to.
The bottom line is this: stand your sacred ground. Own it, protect it, treasure it. The place where you stand, the hula hoop you occupy, is yours. Your highest calling is to care for yourself. In doing so, you’ll become much better equipped to love others and maintain a sense of peace this holiday season.