5 Ways to Set Boundaries With Your Family

5 Ways to Set Boundaries With Your Family

Families can be tricky. They're there for the big moments: the highs and lows, supporting you... or making your life more difficult. Sometimes a bit of both. And these relationships can be challenging when things get too overwhelming, especially if you struggle with advocating for yourself! This can lead to unhealthy dynamics and strained relationships. Yuck.

Setting boundaries is a great way to achieve harmony and balance. Knowing how to do this with our loved ones is hard, but something we should all learn how to master. 

Benefits of Healthy Boundaries:

1. Honor self-care and self-respect.

2. Effectively communicate your needs in a relationship.

3. Make time and space for positive interactions.

Here are some great ways to set healthy boundaries, to protect your mental health and well-being, as well as remain respectful to the ones you love:

1. Understand that your needs are important.

Setting healthy boundaries starts with considering our personal needs and placing importance on them. Ask yourself what you need from your relationships and what you aren't willing to put up with. Taking those needs and prioritizing them is the first step in dealing with difficult family members. Basic needs like eating, sleeping, or just needing time alone, are necessities we need to fulfill before we can be there for others. Remember, you have to take care of yourself to better serve others!

2. Know your triggers and anticipate them.

We all have different things that trigger us. With family, it can get real specific and set us back to our younger years, where our siblings got more attention or our older cousins bullied us. Whatever these triggers are, it's important to be one step ahead of them by identifying what they are, how you feel, how to calm yourself down, and coming up with a plan for how you can respond next time. If you feel like a certain event or conversation could be triggering, talk to a therapist or close friend. Try role playing! It's important to invite yourself to be uncomfortable. This will help you respond in a peaceful way. In other words, get ahead of stressful situations and be prepared. 


3. Clearly communicate your needs.

Being passive aggressive won't get you anywhere. Dropping hints about your boundaries isn't going to fly. Your family needs to understand what your boundaries are, so they can at least have the opportunity to respect them. Be as direct as possible--establish what is okay and not okay so they better understand your limits. 

4. Learn To Say “No” and if that doesn't work, walk away.

Stand up for yourself! Sometimes difficult family members get away with being difficult because you aren't saying something. Whether mom is trying to control what you eat again or grandpa is nagging you about your single life, telling family what you need and don't need can be enough for them to understand when they've crossed a line. Saying NO can be scary, but it's effective! Plus, it sets a clear boundary that the behavior is not welcomed.


Of course knowing when to walk away is also important. If you're being pushed and disrespected, sometimes cooling off and walking away can be the best for your emotional energy. Walking away means you've reached your limit and ultimately, this isn't a conversation you want to engage in anymore. You're physically removing yourself, which means instant relief from an escalating conflict. This protects your relationship as well, so you don't lose your cool or blow up.

5. Make a list of coping mechanisms.

Making a comprehensive list is a great way to cope with triggers and help get you through. Activities could include: getting outside and going on a walk, taking a warm bath with epsom salts, listening to binaural beats, journaling, bringing a friend with you to family events, or deep breathing exercises. These strategies can be essential for getting through difficult times.

Don't forget that your time is yours, even during the holidays! Take care of yourself, establish your needs, and don't be afraid to set some healthy boundaries!

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