It’s day 18 of building a better you! If you think of this better you as an actual creation you can see why you would want to put a boundary around your masterpiece. Boundaries are the topic for today.


The Backyard Analogy for Boundaries

Sometimes when I am working with a couple who are struggling at connecting and communicating with each other, I use the backyard analogy.

I ask them to imagine they live in two houses, side by side, with fenced in backyards. Then I say, “I would like each of you to stay in your own backyard for this exercise. Notice what needs attention, or what you would like to see more of and put it there. You can lean over your fence and talk with each other…but stay out of the other’s backyards. No commenting on what’s there and how it is being managed.”

This helps to emphasize the abstract boundary that exists between two people in a relationship. It is the imaginary border where you end and your partner begins.

Boundaries during the holiday season

build better you boundaries

Others will walk into your backyard figuratively speaking when you are home this holiday. They might think they need to tell you what to do or direct you in some way.

How will you be with this? How do you usually respond? Think about which statements you can use to be your fence that keeps those well-meaning (or not) relatives from dropping into your backyard uninvited.


  • Thank you for your help and I really like to do it this way.
  • I appreciate your concern and right now I have got it covered.

Many people with little Self awareness use anger as a boundary marker. The repercussions of becoming angry with someone who has trespassed on your boundaries can be extreme. You won’t need to use anger if you are aware you are uncomfortable because someone has stepped into your space.

It’s OK to be a broken record about your boundaries

This is perhaps the most important thing to remember when you first start enforcing your boundaries: this might be new behavior in your family. Your family members will not immediately adapt to the new rules of the road. It’s okay to remind them about your boundaries.

Remember, you are allowed to say, “no thank you.” So when you’re being a broken record, be calm, clear, and say no thank you to their infringement.

You might need to leave the area if you feel triggered and emotional. Take a break! Put yourself in a timeout and take a few minutes to bring calm back into your body.

Don’t forget to use the Self quality of Curiosity

I’ve written previously about how the Self quality of Curiosity can ease a panic attack. In that article I said that panic is information and your body wants you to pay attention to something.

Getting Curious about boundaries in your family can also ease any triggered emotions that come up for you when a family member steps on one of your boundaries. Knowledge is power!

  • What were boundaries like in your family, growing up?
  • Was it okay so to speak to set a boundary? Was that respected?
  • How did others react when someone set a boundary?

While you ask yourself these questions remember: you are noticing, participating, and learning about you. That’s how you build a better you. When you set your boundaries clearly you are modeling respect for yourself. When you continually respect yourself others will also respect you and your boundaries.

Get more of my tips for dealing with holidays at home

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Image Credit

Fence” by Flickr user Rachel CALAMUSA licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.