Are the holidays stressful for you? And if so what makes it stressful? Is it the lines, or the gifts or the anxiety of spending time with that family member(you know who they are) who pushes your buttons? But mostly, and I know this is a strange question, how does your people-pleasing show up during the holidays?
If you can be a people pleaser like me then the holidays may be especially stressful for you. So today I’m going to be talking about how people-pleasing can show up for the holidays and what you can do to take some of that stress off you.
Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the sense of community, peace and joy that I have during this time. For me, it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. But you know what I hate about every single year? The long lines, the huge credit card bill, the gifts that don’t get used, trying to pay the same amount for each gift so no one feels cheated, the wondering, pondering, hoping that the person likes the gift, and most of all, the expectation or sometimes unspoken obligation to give every. single. person a gift.
Don’t get me wrong I love giving the kiddies gifts, this is actually the part I love most about Christmas the magic and joy that we get to create for them. Spending time with family and friends, the community and the sense of coming together.
The damper on my Christmas joy has always been the gift giving to numerous adults. And don’t get me wrong I love them just as must as the kids, but you see I have so many adults in my life that giving most of them gifts creates a lot of stress and financial burden for me.
And I’ve tried to get out of this for years, each year suggesting a secret Santa, white elephant, no presents, whatever would get me out of buying the presents for adults. But I was always met with a no or resistance. Even though I knew focusing on the kids would take a load of stress and financial burden off me, year by year I continued resentfully. And that’s no way to experience Christmas.
Until this year a light bulb clicked for me. Alas I realized I didn’t have to ask permission anymore to do that what felt right for me. And this habit of trying to make other people happy despite my own happiness was a please pleasing habit of mine. So this year I decided no more obligation gifts, no more giving small pointless gifts to people I didn’t know well just to say that I did. No more gifts for adults. No more rushing around, long lines and stress.
I gave the news to my family plainly with a simple. “ I would love more to spend time with you all than to exchange gifts, this year I will gifting experiences”. I told them simply that I would take all of us to a family dinner or we could do something together on me. Because at the end of the day these memories would be cherished more than anything I could give them. And I didn’t expect any gifts from them in return. I was ready for resistance and some people to be mad but surprisingly most people gave a simple ok and was fine with it.
I learned that the hurdle I had to get over and what kept me stuck in this cycle was being afraid of being afraid of other people’s disapproval, not wanting to disappoint or to feel like a scrooge. And I had to let all of that go. So this year for the first year I got gifts for only the kids and me and my family had a great Hibachi dinner. And we had a great time.
So the lesson I have learned this year is that I get to decide. I get to celebrate those I love the way that honors my needs and wants. And in giving less I’ve given more happily and cheerfully. The resentment that used to linger after the holidays when I get my final credit card bill is now replaced with leisure, happy spending and no debt.
This is the best gift I could have given myself, a truly stress-free Christmas.
So when you think about what you want to experience next Christmas and the years following what does that look like? What will help you get your needs met and is alignment with your values ? What does joyful giving look like for you? How can you reduce your own people pleasing voice that wants to make others happy at your expense?
You have a choice, you can continue as normal and do what makes everyone else happy or you can do what feels right to you. You can carry the resentment, anger and overall icky feelings that comes along with making everyone else a priority or you can decide that your needs and wants matter. How much of your joy and Christmas spirit is compromised because you are out there rushing, running around trying to make everyone happy? For gifts that may not be appreciated, discarded or regifted. And maybe they will be appreciated but is it worth the stress and anxiety for you?