With the holidays around the corner, I figured it would be the perfect time to write about boundaries. They are necessary in life, oftentimes particularly when it comes to family. In this post I’m going to give you tips on how to set boundaries so that you can enjoy your time, stress free, with your loved ones.
As First-Gen Latinas, we are the cycle breakers of our lineage. We are unique because we’re the ones that have been living between “two worlds” and with that comes choices that some of our family members might not understand…at first. I use “at first” because you might get pushback in the beginning but the more you stand your ground, the more likely your boundaries will be respected, eventually.
Why are they important?
Boundaries are important because let’s be real, they keep us sane. As a First-Gen Latina, I didn’t really grow up seeing boundaries established in family dynamics and that caused unnecessary stress. And drama. The older I get, the more I recognize how important boundaries are for everyone involved. It doesn’t make us “soft” or “weird.” If anything, I prefer to be called those things if that prevents unwanted stress.
Before I proceed, let me backup. Just to be clear, a boundary is a limit or a clear line that you don’t want to be crossed by people. Two types of boundaries are physical and verbal ones. A physical boundary example is not allowing someone to give you a kiss on the cheek. A verbal boundary example is not allowing people to shout or curse at you. These may sound like no brainers to you but they need to be established. Read on to learn how.
How to set boundaries
The first step when beginning to set boundaries is to take time with yourself to figure out the things you will no longer tolerate. Sometimes in our family dynamics we become accustomed to putting up with people simply because they’re related to us. When you go within and choose yourself, you become less dejada. Meaning, you won’t let things slide like you did in the past.
Take the time to reflect on previous family functions you’ve been a part of. How did you feel days before the event? The day of? On your way there? Start with those feelings. If you find that you feel dread, anxiety, or nervousness, figure out why. Do you even want to attend said family functions? If you don’t, why not?
I suggest you journal these thoughts so you can see them in front of you. I’m a huge fan of “free writing,” which consists of setting your phone timer to 5-10 minutes and asking yourself a question (in this case one of the aforementioned ones) and without expectations or judgments, WRITE. If your timer goes off and you don’t feel ready to stop, keep writing until you feel complete.
If you’re not a fan of journaling (I really suggest you at least try it), you can have conversations with yourself using your phone’s voice memo app by recording your responses. By releasing your thoughts whether in writing or out loud, you’ll get clarity on why you feel the way you do. You could also talk to a coach or therapist about this too. The key here is to feel as free as possible to release your feelings and thoughts.
Identify your limits
So now that you have some clarity around previous experiences, it’s time to identify what you will no longer accept. First, I want to quickly note that you are worthy of everything you want. You get to choose how you want to live your life. Finally, it is safe to create boundaries. It is worth it. You are worth it. Alright, now that that’s out of the way, the next step is to identify your limits.
Write them down in your journal or jot them on a note in your phone. You may find that you only have one or two boundaries you wish to establish. Or you may find that you have a long list and that’s fine too. By seeing them in front of you, you may also find that some correlate and can be grouped together for instance.
Another reason why it’s important to identify them is because it can give you ideas for solutions. For example, if you dread attending family functions because they typically run till 3am, you can decide to take your own car if possible and leave whenever you choose. Another example is if you’re always pressured to drink heavy liquor, you can bring your own lighter drink of choice and call it a day.
Alright, now that you have your list of boundaries, the first step is to decide to establish them. Deciding is vital because you’re creating new restrictions that may come with a challenge or two. By deciding this is your new normal, you’re putting your intentions out in the Universe. Don’t skip this step. You can even say something like this out loud, “I am now deciding to create healthy boundaries that will benefit everyone around me but most importantly, me.”
Establishing your boundaries doesn’t have to be difficult. The part that makes it difficult is your thoughts about it. You can question your thoughts about your new boundaries until you feel lighter. Next, find ways to implement your new boundaries beforehand. For example, if you no longer want to talk about a certain topic in front of your whole family, you can text/call the specific relative that always asks you the uncomfortable questions and politely tell her to refrain from doing that this year. This way, if they still do it, you can calmly refer back to your conversation and remind them that you already told them this is no longer acceptable to you.
If you find that your family is not initially accepting of your new limits, you have the choice of how you want to proceed. Understand that this is new to your people and some of them might take it personally, but keep reminding yourself that all of that has nothing to do with you. Idk how this sounds, but essentially, you are training people how to treat you and that may take time.
Stand your ground
I don’t want to make it sound like all of this will be a piece of cake. I understand your family can push back on your new boundaries for whatever reason. The more you communicate in a calm manner, the smoother this new transition can be for you. The key is to be calm. We’re all adults here, even if some don’t act that way. Remind them that they are adults and that they will be respecting you by respecting your new rules. Your people don’t have to understand you, but you have the right to be respected.
Continue to remind people of your boundaries. The more you uphold them from the time you decide, the less complicated it will be to sustain them because people will see that you are serious about it. If you do the opposite by letting things slide here and there, your people will not take you seriously and it’ll be harder to keep and maintain your boundaries. So face the discomfort and stay strong. Know that it will be worth it in the end.
There you have it. I hope you now know how to set boundaries with your loved ones. I want to note that you don’t have to over-explain yourself and you definitely don’t need to apologize for creating and setting boundaries. Keep it short and to the point. You have the right to feel safe around your people. Again, don’t take it personal if at first there is tension or pushback. You got this!
On a personal note, the older I get, the less I tolerate. At first, I felt guilty and bad about it but those feelings diminish overtime. I’ve found that the calmer and lighter I feel about my boundaries, the more my people accept them, even if they have their own thoughts about me (again, that has nothing to do with me). For instance, a boundary that’s coming to mind is information I take in. I don’t watch the news and don’t want to hear gossip. I’m proud to say that at this point, my family knows that and they have accepted it and don’t involve me in negative news or gossip. It feels so good to live this way.
A final piece to keep in mind is to remind yourself why you created your boundaries. This will help during difficult times when upholding them with your people. Remind yourself of the importance of them and how it’ll feel to uphold them. The peace that comes after you set boundaries is unmatched. If you need help with this, I am here for you. Thank you for reading!
Let’s work together!
- If you’re really ready to create the life you want
- If you want to increase your happiness and feel more confident in who you are
- If you want to trust yourself more and live on purpose
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I love and thrive with set and clear boundaries. I’ve worked on them for the last couple of years and it’s been so worth the “uncomfortable” situations/conversations. It’s never too late.