During holidays and busy seasons (like May if you have kids), sticking to your boundaries becomes even more important. The holidays can be a stressful time for many, but especially for those who are highly sensitive. With obligations piling up and social events filling the calendar, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. However, saying “no” is often difficult, as no one wants to disappoint friends and family during the festive season. It’s important for sensitive individuals to be firm, yet gentle with themselves by discerning their limits and not taking on more than they can reasonably manage.
While the desire to please others may be strong, self-care must be the priority, or one risks burnout. A caring but clear “no thank you” communicated with empathy, avoiding blame and making room for future “yesses,” allows sensitive souls to preserve their well-being amid the hustle and bustle. Setting boundaries is an act of both self-respect and consideration for others, helping ensure meaningful connections are not compromised by an overextended schedule.
The key is to express appreciation, provide a reason without blame, suggest an alternative, and communicate care for the relationship. Phrasing like this allows sensitive people to set boundaries gently during the busy holiday period.
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Here are 5 empowering ways to say no during the holidays:
#1 – Way to Say No During the Holidays – I’m Grateful, But
“I’m so grateful for the invitation, but I need to take it easy this season. Let’s try to connect in the new year instead.”
#2 – Way to Say No During the Holidays – Thank You For Thinking of me, But
“Thank you for thinking of me, but with everything going on I think it’s best if I stay home and recharge. I hope you understand.”
#3 – Way to Say No During the Holidays – I Wish I Could Make it Work, But
“I wish I could make it work, but my schedule is packed. Perhaps we could find another time to get together once things calm down post-holidays.”
#4 – Way to Say No During the Holidays – While I’d Love to Celebrate, I Need
“While I’d love to celebrate with you, I need to prioritize rest this year. Let’s plan a low-key visit in the coming months instead.”
#5 – Way to Say No During the Holidays – I’m Afraid I’m Overcommitted
“I’m afraid I’m overcommitted as it is. I don’t want to overextend myself and not be present. Thank you for understanding – I hope we can catch up soon.”
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Why are the holidays difficult for people, in general?
The holidays can be a difficult time for many people for several reasons. For some, it serves as a reminder of loss – whether it be the loss of a loved one they are spending their first holiday season without or loss of relationships with family and friends. It can magnify feelings of loneliness and isolation for those without close family or social circles to celebrate with. It can also be financially stressful as there is pressure to spend money on gifts and other expenses during a time of year when many have just gotten over holiday spending from the previous season. On top of that, the holidays often involve travel which can be expensive and stressful to coordinate in addition to other obligations. Unresolved family dynamics or tensions may also be exacerbated when spending extended time together around the holidays. For these reasons, the holidays are unfortunately difficult or stressful for many individuals.
Why do people struggle with saying no?
Here are a few key reasons why people often struggle with saying no:
- Fear of disappointing others. Saying no means risking letting someone down or hurting their feelings. Many people have a hard time with conflict and prefer to avoid potential disappointment.
- Wanting to be liked. Saying yes to requests helps maintain positive relationships and a reputation of being helpful and likable. Some worry that saying no will make them seem unfriendly or selfish.
- Pressure to overcommit. Cultural norms and expectations sometimes pressure people into taking on more than they reasonably have time for. It’s difficult to go against these implicit social pressures.
- Difficulty setting boundaries. Some lack practice or confidence in their ability to set clear limits and enforce them assertively. It’s easier in the moment to just oblige a request.
- Prioritizing others over self. Some have a strong desire to be selfless and help others, that they neglect their own needs, limits and priorities. Saying no requires asserting one’s own needs.
- Fear of missing out. There is a fear that saying no may mean missing a potential opportunity or experience down the line. This can make people hesitant to decline.
In summary, social and internal pressures, as well as lack of boundary-setting skills, make it challenging for many to feel comfortable declining requests and saying no.
Positive Self-Talk for the HSP Struggling with Boundaries
It’s okay to say no sometimes. I know you want to be helpful and please others, but it’s important that you take care of yourself too. You deserve to feel comfortable and not overextended. Your needs and limits are just as valid as anyone else’s. Saying no does not make you a bad person – it makes you human.
You don’t have to always justify or defend your decisions either. A simple ‘no, that doesn’t work for me’ is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone constant availability. It’s healthy to have your own life and priorities too.
And people who truly care about you will understand that you can’t do everything. They will respect your boundaries. If they get upset over a single ‘no’, that says more about them than you. You have so much wonderful love to offer the world. But only when you’re feeling good yourself.
Starting small can help, like saying no to just one thing that doesn’t feel right. With practice, it will get easier to trust yourself and your judgement. You’ve got this – your well-being is important. You deserve to feel at peace.Love,
Be sensitive, be free
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