The holidays are in full swing and there’s a whole lot of hugging going on! Warm and loving ones from my mom that make it hard to let go. A big hug from my brother, as we have always been close. Quick hugs from my sister. The embraces with my husband because it’s been a good day, a bad day or you just need a hug to feel better about life. The “I’m always there for you” hugs from your close friends. And the “I haven’t seen you in forever” hugs from the friends you see now and again.
But what about unwanted and unwelcome hugs from family or acquaintances you are not very fond of? An experience last Christmas with a family member left me feeling very angry. After asking him not to hug me, he took me from surprise and hugged me from behind in a very obnoxious way. I was so stunned! It made me feel uncomfortable and disrespected. I was caught off guard. Why did he think this behavior was acceptable? It left me stressed about every future gathering that he would be present at.
How do you get through to someone who doesn’t respect your wishes? How do you set boundaries in these situations?
The circumstance came up again not so long ago. I happened to have a large box in my hands and the front door was handy. So, with my back to the door and the box in hand, I was able to set up a perimeter he wouldn’t be able to get around. (If I could have put up an electric fence, I would have!) When he came to me for a hug, I held onto the box and didn’t move. He threw up his hands in frustration and walked away!
I felt so relieved and, even more, I had a feeling of being empowered rather than being uncomfortable.
Now, I know I can’t spend my life carrying a large box around with me, but perhaps I can use my imagination and feel one in my hands to set a boundary in the future, if needed. The electric fence is optional, however!