The holiday season is in full swing, and if you’re like most humans, you might be coming up on some sort of burnout.
This is totally expected for this time of year, but the REAL news is that, just because it’s common doesn’t mean you have to get caught up with it.
There are tons of ways you can avoid the runaround but for today I want to mention one in particular, and that is our ability to set our own boundaries – with others, and with ourselves.
Boundaries can look like any of the following:
- Saying: “No, I’m sorry I can’t attend that party/work function/holiday event.” (No further explanation necessary.)
- Putting your phone outside of your bedroom at 9 PM each night to save yourself from late night scrolling
- Commiting to not volunteering for anything else and allowing yourself to enjoy the season
- Limiting your time with individuals who drain your energy
To that last point, lots of us have people in our lives who leave us feeling drained, off-balanced, or unsettled in some way. And it’s as though the turning of the calendar page to the month of December tends to kick the crazy up a notch.
The beauty of placing boundaries around these “energy vampires” is that we can do it without expending our own energy when we come at it from a place of non-judgment and compassion (yes, even for the most difficult ones!).
Everyone has different challenges in this life. We can’t assume to know another person’s jouney. AND we can honor that while still making our own choices and placing boundaries to protect our own energy.
There’s a quote by the late Ram Dass who explains this beautifully, likening individuals to trees. He shared:
“When you go out into the woods, and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.
The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying ‘You are too this, or I’m too this.’ That judgment mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.”
If only there were a way to download a person’s life when you meet them, so you could understand why they are who they are, all of the experiences, choices, and paths they’ve taken that have converged to this moment in front of you.
Since we can’t do that, the best thing we can do is to meet them without judgment.
And I believe that the second best thing we can do is to remind ourselves not to get lost in someone else’s forest.
This is the key to joy this season.
Understanding things from this way allows us to still set the boundary, but without the emotional charge behind it. And that’s the key to keeping our own joy and protecting our own energy when we view things from this angle: we see the behavior in a different light, so it softens the edges around the upset, and then we can set the appropriate boundary and protect our inner space.
This leaves us with more internal peace.
A great practice to help with this is to notice that we have our own internal forests as well. I’ve got one, with all different types of trees growing in all different ways. We can practice with ourselves, meeting our own trees and instead of judging, become curious.
I wonder why this one grew that way, when the light is in the other direction? I wonder why this one is flourishing and this one is not? Neither are good or bad, they simply just are.
One thing I notice, however, is that the strongest trees in my forest are the ones dropping leaves right now. I see them, gently releasing their leaves in the late fall breeze. They aren’t trying to hang on, grasp, or force. They’re simply letting go of what no longer serves them. And it’s beautiful, and it’s effortless, and it’s exactly as it should be.
Because the tree, in its quiet wisdom, knows a better secret: it will grow back exactly what it needs when the time is right. And it knows that it can’t make room for new growth if it’s holding onto the old.
So, set some boundaries, and reclaim your joy this season.
PS – If you’re committed to reducing your stress and staying grounded throughout the holidays, join me for my free 21-Day Healthy Holiday Challenge, where each day I’ll send you quick, bite-sized content you can easily incorporate into your day to help keep you grounded and centered so you can navigate the season smoothly and with more joy. It kicks off on December 10th, and best of all, it’s FREE. Consider it my gift to you this season. You can sign up below. Much love to you and yours!