Saying “NO” This Holiday Season

By Jen LaVecchia, LMFT

In just about a blink it’s going to be 2018. This last month of the year will fly by. But before it does, let’s take a few minutes to brainstorm how to set some good boundaries and make the most of this holiday season.

The first question to think about is, “What’s the priority this season? What is going to take precedence over everything else?” The reality is that life is always going to be throwing things at us, trying to tell us what is more important. And to be real, when I say life, I also mean people. Friends, family, your crazy Aunt Suzie, the “Jones” next door, social media, etc. are all going to try to tell us what to be invested in. Instead of being forced into what’s being thrown at us, let’s take a step back and predetermine where and how we really want to be spending our time. When we solidify a priority it makes it so much easier to sort out whether or not to commit to various events. For example, if the priority is to spend more time with the kids, then committing to family friendly events may take precedence over couples or work events. Or if it has been a long, difficult year, then maybe the priority is laying low and recovering. The decision could be to say no to everything except for one family event or not even that. Changing our mindset from what all we have to get to, to how we really want to spend this season is going to be the small tweak that makes all the difference. (Side note - this may be a discussion you want to have collectively with your family or significant other so that everybody has the same game plan).

A good friend of mine told me a while ago that during really busy seasons, her go to answer is “No” for everything, and if she still finds herself thinking about it later, she’ll consider committing to that event or activity. I have tried it and have to admit that it helped me really consider whether or not I wanted to do something. If it has been an especially busy or difficult year for you, this may be a tactic you could try or at least stay mindful of as you sort through your commitments.

Let’s take this a step further. What is the fear behind saying no? What do we fear will happen if we turn down invitations or don’t get to everything? Are we afraid how others will respond or if there will be some backlash? What would the repercussions be and are these things we can live with in order to benefit from not having to attend another cookie exchange or holiday party this season? Some folks fear confrontation and that’s understandable, but would the 2 minute conversation of saying no be worth the result of the 2 hours of freedom for not having to attend that event? For the people pleasers out there, if we let down these folks by saying no, what are we anticipating will happen as a result? My challenge would be that your worth is not dependent on whether or not you are attending all the events this season. If someone is going to punish you because you did not attend one of his or her events, what does that say about the relationship? And for folks that have FOMO (fear of missing out), if we take an extra minute to really think about what we would be missing out on, how important is that? Is it not something we could make up at a different time when we’re less busy and/or tired? Last but not least is a friendly reminder about social media. That family that you think has it all together, most likely does not. Here at CCST we can guarantee that those families you think have it together, really do not. Everybody is fighting his or her own battle. Don’t compare their “highlight reel” on social media to your current circumstances. That’s just not fair.

My encouragement to you this holiday season is take the time to step back and evaluate what really is important. Having that solidified will help you more easily filter out your commitments and safeguard the precious time that ultimately means the most to you. Wishing you all a joyous holiday season!