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How to say Yes or No this Holiday Season.

boundaries boundary setting find your voice holidays Nov 14, 2021

At the Instagram Live - Finding Your Voice Training I talked about developing a new boundary that supports the life you want to live.  I do this training in the fall because there are a lot of requests and obligations for many of us during the months of November and December.  To name a few things that pop up on my calendar every holiday season are friend dinners, family dinners, school fundraiser sales, holiday shows, piano recitals, work events, holiday parties.   Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and friends but I also need to pay attention to my own energy level and find a balance. 

Pushing my energy bandwidth only becomes a problem when my perfectionist mindset tells me that I must say "Yes" to everything as to not upset or disappoint anyone.  And if I do say yes, then I must find the perfect side dish to share, the perfect teacher gift, the perfect dress for my husband’s work event, the perfect one thing, on and on. It suddenly becomes an overwhelming request for perfection.  It quickly shifts from a fun celebratory time of the year to 10 tons of pressure on my shoulders.

Your tendency may be to approach it like all or nothing. You’re not alone.  It's so common to feel like you either say yes to all the things or say no to all the things.  You don’t want to hurt people’s feelings.  You don’t want to seem biased.   You either want a completely quiet holiday or a celebratory holiday.   Don’t limit yourself.  This binary thinking is too black and white.  It can also result in being stuck in a place of indecision.  The decision feels too big when we limit our choices. If the choices feel too big, then you may just not make any decision at all.

Instead, let’s begin to make the holiday season balanced by setting your intent. Take a moment to close your eyes and visualize the last two months of the year 2021.  What is your personal focus for the holiday season?  Is there a single word that rises up? When you think of holidays of the past, what are your fondest memories?

Once you have an idea of the intent you can begin to approach the list of invites with clarity and confidence.  The decision is not rooted in fear now but in your values and aligns with the type of holiday you’d like.  For example, if your focus is on the spiritual components, you will prioritize the events at the synagog or church.  If your focus is on family, when the competing invite comes in that pushes you to make a choice between work and family, you know how to respond.

The guilt reduces when the yes and the no are aligned with your inner self.  Not everyone will like the choices you make.  And that isn’t because you are a horrible unlikeable person but because they're emotionally invested in their event.  They see their worth tied up in the cookie exchange they do each year.  They feel validated and feel relevant in your life when you show up at their table for dinner.   So if you decide to decline their event, it is their responsibility to work through the feelings that come up for them.  This is true even if you hear statements like “You’re disappointing me.”  Actually, no one can make anyone feel a certain way.  

It’s time to be done sacrificing your own happiness for the happiness of others. This doesn't mean you will never make an intentional choice to someone's needs above your own.  The difference is that it will be intentional rather than a guilt reaction.  Perhaps there is a family dinner at your great aunt’s that is cramped and hot and not the veggie-based food you normally consume but you go because family is your priority.  Your choice of putting your great aunt's needs first is intentional.  When the choice is intentional it eliminates the self-doubt and frustration. 

So what will you say Yes or No to this Holiday Season?   How will you intentionally make choices that align with your values?  Imagine heading into the new year feeling content and calm about the last two months of the year rather than frenzied and guilty.  You have the power to begin setting intentional loving boundaries.  If you’d like more help in finding your own voice feel free to email me at [email protected].

What would you say if I told you that spending 5 minutes per day supporting your mental wellness could improve your gut health? And 5 minutes per day helping your gut health could improve your mental health?


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