Blog post graphic Holidays and Boundaries, second edition episode 33

Holidays and Boundaries

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I shared this idea last year at around this time to help with holidays and boundaries in 2020, because it was a different year, and 2021 is shaping up to be in some ways the same; so I wanted to share it again with you this year in the hopes that it will give you some things to consider and think about in how to approach boundaries this year; what needs to be put in place to protect your wellbeing, the wellbeing of your relationships, the resources that you have (your time and energy and bandwidth) in a healthy and well-rounded way.


What I want to talk about today is boundaries around the holidays, because I think that bringing it out of ourselves is a way to help us discern what’s best for us, our family, our extended family, and other relationships.

One thing that I’ve noticed in myself since the events of 2020 is that things feel somehow “bigger”: the usual holiday stress; feelings of expectations or pressure; longing to be with family; the grief of not having what I was hoping for, or what I might expect on a normal year around Christmas time; the pressure to make it right for my kids and make it special somehow…It all feels bigger. Instead of talking about each Enneagram type today, what I’m going to do is bring up some ways or reasons why you might feel one way or another when it comes to boundaries around Christmas.

I think there’s a lot of nuance here. I do not think that this is an issue that’s simply about your Enneagram type, though I do think that boundaries really are affected by our type. More than that, though, I think they are impacted by our subtypes, our circumstances, and our expectations. Let’s look at each of these.

Subtypes

The ways we approach boundaries, or ways we can grow to have healthy boundaries and respect others’ boundaries, are all definitely impacted by our Enneagram type; but I think they are maybe even more impacted by our subtype. Are you a self-preservation type who is focused on home, health, safety and things like that? That’s a big determining factor! 

I think as we move into Christmas (especially since 2020) you will see whether you are more naturally inclined to have super strong, super tight boundaries; or if you are more naturally inclined to ask for people to take their boundaries down. 

A self-preservation subtype is probably going to lean more toward the thought, “I’m in close, I’m keeping safe, please respect my boundaries.” Whereas a social subtype is probably on the other side of the spectrum, thinking, “For me to feel safe and okay, I want to be around my people. I want to be around my circle. So please open up your boundaries and let me in.” The one-to-one subtype is probably in the middle of these two extremes. So you have these two really opposing ideas, but the goal of each of these types is the same: We want to feel okay. We want to feel safe. We want to feel like we belong. 

How each of these subtypes goes about that can be very opposite, and can cause a lot of friction. 

Circumstances

Another thing that will impact boundaries is whatever your circumstances are. Things like…

  • What’s going on
  • Where you live
  • What’s happening with your family
  • What plans are being made that you have to make choices about

Each of these things will impact how you create, hold, and view boundaries.

Expectations

What are the expectations or pressures that are being placed on you that are unique to you? These things will impact your boundaries!

Tips for Where You Fall On The Spectrum

So all of that is going to land you somewhere along the spectrum of boundaries, either setting very strong boundaries, or unintentionally and maybe even unknowingly invading other’s boundaries. Some things for you to consider as we move forward:

  • Where do you think you fall when it comes to the holidays coming up? 
  • What adjustments can you make now to be in a healthy place?
  •  How can you communicate with your people and get to the other side of the holidays with your wellbeing and relationships intact, causing as little friction as possible?

This can be difficult to think about because no matter where you are on the spectrum, both of them feel like something you have to do in order to feel safe.

“If I need people, I’m going to go to people.”

“If I need to be away from people or shutting them out, I’m going to do that.”

Here’s the thing, though: everybody is going through a lot of the same stress. One thing to keep in mind is that this isn’t a normal year. Usually, going into the Christmas season, there would be a small percentage of people who are dealing with a huge amount of stress and a large percentage of people who can be a support system. Now, though, it’s the other way around: the majority of people are under a massive amount of stress and strain, and there’s only a tiny fraction of people who are available for support. Just something to keep in mind.

I’m not saying that you have to change how you’re being or the boundaries that you have in place; instead, just be thinking about whether you should adjust some of those boundaries, or to not ask other people to shift their boundaries.

You are going to be on one of those two ends, either considering how you can open yourself up a little more, stretch yourself, and do a little more than you thought you could; or how you can not ask so much, do without that support part, not ask whoever to participate in this thing because that might be too much for them. 

It’s a hard place to be this year, no matter where you are on the continuum. I think, though, that doing some personal reflection and preparation will help us manage this year better.

If You Hold Tight Boundaries

If you fall on the side of holding tight boundaries, I think it’s important to ask yourself what boundaries you have in place when it comes to holidays. Just list them out. 

  • What are the things that you have already decided you’re willing to do?
  • What about things you are not willing to do?
  • Where are you willing to be? Not willing to be?
  • What are the expectations you’re willing to have placed on you or not?

Next, In these boundaries you listed, are there things that you have a little bit of give in, where you could go either way? If so, make a point of pointing those out, because you might find that just giving a little bit where you already feel like you can will be so helpful for people who are looking for their people this season. 

If You Tend to Ask Others to Remove Boundaries

If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, here are some things you can do:

  • List out whatever boundaries you can think of, even hinted-at boundaries that other people have communicated to you, or that you know this person would be uncomfortable with. What are some boundaries of others that you know exist? 
  • Next, mark down the ones that you know wouldn’t take away any joy, or leave you feeling unsupported. 
  • Make sure that you are really thinking about where you can respect others’ boundaries, honor them so that this person over here feels supported. 

I think the way to get through the holidays in general is for both sides of the spectrum to give just a little bit, because I think the stress of everything that’s happening right now on top of the holidays is pushing us from the middle of the spectrum to the outside, pushing us along that continuum to one or the other. I think it’s important to think about boundaries, how we relate to them and where we can either move a little more towards self-support instead of others-support; or move a little bit more towards being around people in ways that still feel safe. So just moving towards the middle a little bit will bring us closer together without one of us feeling imposed upon and the other one feeling out in the cold.

If this is something that you feel you need and would be really helpful for you to talk about–the nuance of your circumstance, your subtype, how you relate to boundaries and how you would feel supported by the people around you– let me know! I’m here for that. Please come hit me up on Instagram. I really want to have a conversation with you and know what you think, how you feel, and if there’s any way that I can help you work through the holiday season, just like all of us are. 

If you haven’t yet, grab a copy of The Enneagram for Beginner’s book (affiliate link, thank you for your support!) or you can shop through my favorite books and resources for using the Enneagram in the Amazon Storefront.

Want to purchase Enneagram stickers, hats and more? Click through to the Christian Enneagram Shop and check it out. 

Kim Eddy

Kim is an Enneagram Coach, author, and podcaster. She loves to hang out on Instagram @christianenneagram.coach, and helping people use the Enneagram in their day-to-day lives is one of her main passions.

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