Regardless of the time of the year, it can be hard to set boundaries with families and loved ones. It can also be stressful. Holiday parties and family visits can often result in intimate conversations turning into arguments or violations of personal space. Many people struggle to set boundaries, which can prevent some of these problems from starting.
“Relationship functioning depends on it, and we’re not so good at it,” says Jessica Borelli, a professor of psychological science and a clinical psychologist at UC Irvine. According to Borelli, boundaries are set when one person limits what they will not do within a relationship.
Boundaries can vary depending on the individual and can encompass anything from limiting your time with someone to not attending an event you don’t feel comfortable attending. It’s hard to know what defines a reasonable or sensible boundary for one person and what defines one for another.
Experts say setting boundaries can lead to enormous amounts of guilt unavoidably. If you disappoint a friend, you may feel miserable. Your family’s reaction may make you second-guess your choice. The guilt can be managed, and points to remember to make it less overwhelming if this happens. Just remember these points, and you’re good to go:
- Know that guilt isn’t a bad thing. It is normal to feel guilty when having uncomfortable conversations.
- People who respect you and want to be in your life will understand where you’re coming from and have your best interests at heart.
- Set boundaries while affirming your relationships to combat guilt. You need to listen to your own needs while setting boundaries but tell your loved ones you care about them when you are.
- Think about if your guilt is helping you by thinking about it in extremes. If it’s not helping you, you take power away from the guilt.