The run up to Christmas, Christmas itself and New Year is such a busy period. As well as all the gift buying, menu planning and decorating, this is the whirlwind social season. Invitations to holiday events and parties and family get-togethers fly at you from all directions and unless you’re a time traveler you can’t simply fit them all in. And, maybe there are some you simply don’t wish to grace with your presence. Here’s how to say no and not feel guilty:
1. Be Honest
Being honest about your own wishes and what you feel obliged to do is the first step to finding middle ground, a compromise you can live with and won't fee aggrieved or hard-done by.
2. Take the Grown-up Approach
There's no denying it, you are somebody's child, but that doesn't mean you should still be treated as one. Respect doesn't equal regression into childhood roles. If you allow others to assign a child role to you, you'll eventually feel like one and allow others to treat you like you've never made it into adulthood.
3. Take a Close Look at Your Motives
If you are hoping they will change or give you the reward you've been longing for, forget it, it's not going to happen. Scrutinize your motives. Why are you trying to play the martyr and do things you don't really want to do? Revise your motivations and be realistic about what to reasonably expect.
4. Accepting Your Family Doesn't Mean Your Wishes Cease to Exist
You can accept your family, warts and all, but that doesn't mean that you have to agree with everything they do or say and you certainly don't have to be the person they want you to be. Live and let live, that's the motto that will establish you on an equal footing with other family members.
5. State What You Are Prepared to do (if Applicable)
Say "I won't be there on XXX day, but I'll visit you on X date for breakfast/ lunch / dinner / drinks"; just fill in the blanks as appropriate. Life is about compromising.
6. Don't Drag out the Inevitable: Tell Them You Won't Be There!
If you don't want to visit over the Holidays or do something you've been asked to do, don't drag it out. Tell those concerned you won't be there. Last minute cancellations are very hurtful to others, and you are more likely to backtrack because you'll be overwhelmed with guilt. Being proactive will help you avoid awkward telephone conversations.
7. Show Compassion, Not Guilt
Let them know that you know it's rather a surprise and that you understand they are disappointed, but don't try to fix their delicate feelings - firstly, you can't, and secondly, why should you? Change is a good thing and they need to embrace it as much as you do. Just give it time and let everybody's feelings simmer down.
8. Your Own Needs Matter
You love your wider family circle but sometimes the idea of spending several dramatic, intense days with them can just be too much of a good thing - especially when you're exhausted from work and just want to chill out and enjoy quality time with your own partner and kids - or just on your own, if you happen to be single.
9. Get Real!
It's just one Holiday you're taking off from the family firm, not saying goodbye forever and ever because you're transforming into a polar bear to live permanently in the arctic. After decades of spending every holiday with them, you deserve a break - and so do they.
Do you end up spending time at events and with family because you can’t say no? Maybe this year it will be different?