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4 Paths To Healthy Boundary Setting

Written by: Ebonie-Marché Jones, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

While the holidays generally represent festivities, traditions, and gatherings, the season also represents anxiety. For survivors of sexual trauma, the holidays mean urgency, obligation, overwhelm, and dread. The holidays might be challenging if trauma is associated with friend groups or family. If this sounds familiar, imagine a life of freedom and power to operate independently from the restraints of people-pleasing, guilt, shame, and fear. Imagine being able to set and honor limits around personal time and emotional needs. Setting healthy boundaries clarifies responsibilities and allows for more efficient use of resources. Healthy boundaries eliminate confusion around needs and expectations. Boundaries are difficult to enforce because they are often associated with confrontation. However, setting and enforcing personal guidelines puts us in control of our lives, allows us to develop trust in ourselves and others, and helps us to grow in confidence. Setting boundaries is all about awareness of needs.

A happy Asian female student being focused on studying while sitting outdoors.

Here are four paths to better boundary setting during the holiday season.


Be curious about emotions.


Emotions carry information about needs and safety. Feeling unsettled signals disconnect, misalignment, unmet needs, and confusion. Lean into these emotions that signal discomfort. The best way to attend to these emotions is to ask questions of ourselves, the environment, the situation, and other parties. Caring for each emotion without judgment or assigning a value (good or bad) allows for processing that is not attached to guilt, shame, and people-pleasing.


Develop a healthy sense of self.


Developing a healthy sense of self leads to an increase in confidence. Language plays a role in the development of an empowered self. How we talk about ourselves, the language around events, and what we believe about ourselves affect our ability to achieve our desired outcome. An independent and grounded sense of self leads to clear communication of needs and limits.


Meet shame with self-compassion.


Be bold in meeting shame with love, grace, softness, and acceptance. The emotion of shame carries the message that "I am a bad person." External factors fuel this message and lead to self-criticism and self-punishment. Self-compassion disrupts negative self-talk and leads to self-trust.


Meet resistance with curiosity.


Avoid categorizing resistance to boundaries as confrontation. View resistance as an opportunity to provide clarity, build distress tolerance, and practice assertiveness. Consider meeting resistance with curiosity rather than compromising boundaries. What does this mean? Ask questions based on observations. Lead with empathy and understanding rather than the desire to convince.


If the holiday season is anxiety-inducing, there are choices for a different experience. Stepping away from fear-based behavior invites validation, support, and emotional and mental safety. Safety develops confidence in self, decisions, relationships, communication, and a changed narrative.


To address challenges relating to sexual trauma, challenging relationship dynamics, and self-worth, reach out to Ebonie-Marché at www.eboniemarche.com.


Follow me on Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

 

Ebonie-Marché Jones, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ebonie-Marché Jones is a licensed psychotherapist based in New York City. She is the founder of Ebonie-Marché, LLC, which helps adult survivors navigate the challenges of sexual trauma. These challenges include adaptations relating to self-esteem, family dynamics, vulnerability, guilt and shame, and romantic relationships. She is passionate about using her cross-cultural experiences and multiple identities to connect with diverse populations. She addresses the silence around sexual trauma, guides survivors toward a more integrated and empowered lifestyle, and emphasizes the power of storytelling and movement to achieve post-traumatic growth. Ebonie-Marché has a master's degree in Mental Health and Wellness Counseling from New York University and a master's degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College. She is also a Certified Trauma Professional and yoga instructor. Her approach is collaborative, client-centered, and holistic.

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