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Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Boundaries = Happy Holidays

So many wonderful things are possible during the holidays: Quiet time to expand our souls, the chance to embrace generosity and good will, opportunities to enjoy the warmth of our families and friends, and be grateful for the wonderful relationships in our lives.

But many people suffer through this season, becoming increasingly frazzled, resentful, and hurt with every new disappointing interaction, extra commitment, and unrealistic expectation put on them. (And often, feeling most hurt and put-upon by the people who should love them the best). I’ve been a marriage and family therapist for a loooong time now, and there is one thing I consistently see in people who do NOT have a good time over the holidays: Bad boundaries.

When Boundaries Are a Problem Over The Holidays

  • When Boundaries Are Too Soft: When people are too passive and don’t speak up about their needs and feelings, they often wind up feeling put-upon, mistreated or disrespected by family members, children, friends or partners, and resentments brew. 
  • When Boundaries Are Too Hard: When people are too rigid and inflexible with their boundaries, they often feel tense, stressed out, and irritable by all the assaults to their preferences that this season can fling. Furthermore, friends and family members may feel put-upon, mistreated or disrespected by them — and it creates unnecessary conflict.
  • When Boundaries Are Not Considered: When people aren’t self-aware and clear about their own limits and struggle to hold healthy boundaries with themselves, they overcommit time and energy, have unrealistic expectations of themselves, over-indulge in unhealthy ways, and are prone to overspending. This leaving them feeling stressed out, overwhelmed, exhausted, and emotionally and financially depleted by the time New Year’s rolls around. Not fun at all.

Because these kinds of boundary problems are so common (and so darn avoidable, with advance planning) I thought I’d put together some holiday-specific boundary advice for you.

Listen, and learn specific, actionable tips and tools that you can use to set healthy limits with your self and others, and also be selectively flexible.

I sincerely hope that it helps you stay in a good place over the next month, and enhance all the wonderful moments that this season has to offer.

All the best to YOU this holiday season…

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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Healthy Boundaries: The Holiday Edition

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Have Less Frazzle and More Fun This Holiday

Have Less Frazzle and More Fun This Holiday

Have Less Frazzle and More Fun This Holiday

Holidays. The annual, breathless whirl of go-go socializing, shopping, cooking, decorating, wrapping — all building up to the gleeful spree of giving and receiving. It’s the time of year when we come together, and try to make special, memorable moments with the most cherished people in our lives.

For many of us, it’s the most important time of the year. Special outfits are bought. Pictures are taken. Gatherings are organized. People are paying huge amounts of money to fly to and from Denver through precarious weather, just to be together for those few days. We can feel a lot of pressure to make it special. I’ve been certainly hearing about the impact of this intensity in my recent life coaching sessions.

In trying to make our holiday memorable we often wind up focusing on The Stuff of the holidays. And I’m not just talking about presents. I’m talking about all the other Stuff: Wreaths. Tinsel. Sequined sweaters. Lights. Trees. Cookies. Handmade ornaments. Homemade peanut brittle. Centerpieces. Food. Wrapping paper. You know: The Stuff.

It’s hard not to get excited about The Stuff when Pinterest-inspired visions of sugarplums are dancing in your head. And the fact is that having special holiday Stuff is part of what makes this time of year so memorable and festive festive. It feels happy to look at twinkly lights, and to listen to holiday music, and decorate the tree together with people you love.

But notice as I just called your attention to happy parts of the holidays I was not talking about The Stuff itself, but the experiences you had with The Stuff.

And that’s the important part, and the true secret to having a happy holiday:

Focus on having happy experiences, not on The Stuff.

At the end of the day, no one remembers The Stuff. No one is going to remember the peanut brittle you’re killing yourself to make, nor will they think back about your awe inspiring decor or feel grateful for how many hours you sat by yourself painstakingly hand-painting ornaments. It’s only value of The Stuff is as an attractive background to happy experiences.

Here’s what really makes memories: Memories are seared into our brains through emotionally heightened experiences, and through novelty. So if you really want the legacy of your holiday efforts to be that of happy memories, put the glue gun down, abandon the idea that you’re going to make 36 hand painted tins in which to gift your brittle. Instead, start thinking about something genuinely fun you can do with your family that you will all enjoy. (Including you).

The details don’t matter. What matters is that you have a good time, and do something memorable together. So go ice skating. Have a snowball fight. Go caroling, or volunteer. The more energy you put into these activities, and the less you put into stuff, the more fun and less frazzling your holidays will be.

Tips to have genuinely happy experiences:

1) Smile. When you smile you will feel happier, and other people will feel happier. Lift up the corners of your mouth and whatever is happening will start to rise like bubbles in champagne.

2) Decide in advance that you’re going to have a good time. What will you need to be telling yourself in order to have fun? “Wow, this is great.” Decide in advance to feel grateful and appreciative of whatever experience you have, and then it shall be so.

3) Prioritize making other people feel happy and loved above all else. This will automatically make you feel happy too, if you are following rule #2 above: Decide how great it’s going to feel to bring joy to others. Give lots of hugs, tell people how terrific you think they are and smile at them a lot– no Stuff will make them feel any happier.

4) Do something different. Novelty adds interest and excitement to the most banal of experiences. So try doing something that you’ve never done before this year. Go to a hot springs, go somewhere on a train, try going down the sledding hill upside down and backwards. Go big or go small, but do something new.

5) Find ways to incorporate meaning in your holiday traditions through rituals. Mark the passing of time with letting kids make sloppy, crooked new ornaments every year. Take a new family photo every year in your shocking Christmas sweaters. Have a solstice ritual where everyone gets to say what they’re releasing into the darkness and what they’re embracing in the new light.

Be happy this holiday. Remember it’s not about The Stuff, it’s about having fun with people you love. So stop wrapping things and start wrapping people up in big hugs. You all deserve it.

Xo, Lisa

Dealing With The In Laws

Dealing With The In Laws

Does your partner’s family drive you crazy? Are you annoyed that they have issues with yours?

Having… feelings… about each other’s family of origin is one of the most common things that couples have conflict about, particularly around the holidays. For many, this year may be even more challenging, as extended family members with very strong (and opposing) political opinions sit down to break break together. Even outside the holidays, many couples struggle to find a healthy middle ground that respects the integrity of their new family while also maintaining relationships with each other’s “first family.”

Humor break: Check out this hilarious letter from someone’s ultra-controlling mother in law.

In-Law Survival Guide

On this episode of the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast I put together an “in law survival guide” for you to not just handle this year’s holiday season with diplomacy and grace, but how to come together as a couple around how to set appropriate limits with each other’s families both now and in the future.

I’m sharing my best advice on how to strengthen the family you created together, and come into each other’s “first family” as a couple. We’ll also talk about communication strategies, as well as tips to help you stay in a good place if you find yourself in a challenging interpersonal situation with your partner’s family.

I hope that these ideas help you honor and respect each other, while also maintaining the extended family relationships that are so important to both of you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

Dealing With The In Laws

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

Music credits: “We’re Leaving,” by DeVotchKa

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Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays

Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays

Holidays: NOT The Happiest Time Of Year For Heartbreak

Breakups and divorces are difficult any time of year, but most people find that the period between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day adds an extra layer of angst and anxiety to their breakup recovery process. Even if you’ve been making progress, encountering your first round of holidays alone can trigger a fresh round of grief, anger, and anxiety. Why?

1) You have painful old memories of (happy) holidays past.

2) You have to deal with potentially awkward social events, and difficult questions.

3) When everyone else is together, it highlights your loneliness.

On this edition of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’m going to be giving you actionable advice to cope with all of it. You’ll learn how to take care of yourself, ways to manage your feelings, and most importantly — how to use this time to heal, grow, and move on to a brighter future.

Coping With Your Broken Heart Over The Holidays: Listen Now

Music Credits: “Dance This Mess Around” by the B-52s

 

Are You Obsessing About Your Ex?

Are you craving contact with your Ex, even though you know it's bad for you? Are you "stalking" your Ex through social media? Are you awake at night rehashing old memories? Are you feeling stuck in sadness, anger, or guilt, and wishing you could just let go, and move on?

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Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is a breakup recovery expert, and she has helped countless people all over the world heal their broken hearts. Now her guidance is available to you through an affordable, online class. 

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Decide If You Should Try Again • Release Your Emotional Attachment • Find Forgiveness • Repair Your Self Esteem • Stop Obsessing • Restore Your Inner Peace • Trust Again •  Love After Loss

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching