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Breaking Free From People Pleasing: The Art of Refusal

By November 20, 2023Blog

In a world dominated by societal expectations and the pressure to meet the needs and desires of others, the art of refusal and how to implement often remains a silent struggle. People pleasing, or ‘Overextension,’ is the act of carrying a burden of responsibilities, all in the name of appeasing those around us, while our own well-being slowly erodes. The fear of disappointing others and the constant need for validation can lead to a form of silent suffering that is particularly affecting during the holiday season. Let’s embark on a journey, not of bullet points and strategies, but of storytelling and connection, as we explore the signs of silent suffering, its impact on mental health, and the path to breaking free from the cycle of people pleasing. Along the way, we’ll discover the invaluable resources provided by Give an Hour, which can serve as guiding stars on our journey toward self-care. 

Anxiety: The Silent Companion 

In the world of people pleasing, there’s a common thread of anxiety, a silent companion that often goes unnoticed. Imagine yourself being asked to host a grand holiday gathering year after year because of your reputation as a talented cook. As the years roll on, the joy you once found in preparing these feasts starts to decline, leaving behind a lingering sense of obligation. The fear of disappointing your family and friends keeps you in the kitchen, even when the possibility of cooking another extravagant meal feels like a burden too heavy to bear. 

Then there’s the tale of the “Exhausted Social Butterfly.” You’re known for your social charm, and every holiday season, your calendar fills to the brim with party invites. The fear of missing out and the pressure to maintain appearances push you to attend every event, even when you’re mentally and physically exhausted. You say yes to party after party, fearing that saying no might harm your relationships. Your social skills, once a source of joy, now become an exhausting performance. 

Managing the Mental Load  

As the holiday season unfolds, the difficulties of saying “no” loom large. Declining invitations and requests become an enormous task. The fear of letting others down or damaging relationships holds us hostage, often leading us to overcommit. We feel the need for validation intensify. Whether from family, friends, or social circles, the holidays seem to magnify our longing for approval, pushing us to prioritize the happiness of others over our own. Conflict avoidance, a hallmark of people pleasing, comes to the forefront. We go out of our way to avoid confrontations, even if it means suppressing our own needs. Our sense of duty to ensure everyone’s happiness takes the front seat, leaving our own well-being in the rearview mirror. 

With overcommitment comes the impending doom of burnout. Our schedules become jam-packed with holiday obligations, leading to exhaustion, reduced performance, and emotional detachment. It’s a cycle that perpetuates itself, silently chipping away at our mental health. 

But there’s hope, and it starts with self-awareness. It’s the act of recognizing and acknowledging our behavior. We need to ask ourselves why we’re agreeing to these tasks and responsibilities during the holidays. Is it out of genuine interest, or are we simply trying to please others? 

Honor Your OWN Needs 

To put this into a holiday perspective, consider reevaluating your traditions. Many of us keep participating in activities simply because they’re traditions, even when they no longer bring joy. Break free from people pleasing by daring to start new, more fulfilling traditions. Setting boundaries is a crucial step. The act of saying “no” is not a rejection of the person or tradition; it’s a way of honoring your own needs. 

In seeking support, don’t hesitate to reach out to friends, family, or professionals. They can offer insights and help you navigate and change these people-pleasing tendencies. Open conversations with loved ones about your needs and boundaries during the holidays can also provide much-needed understanding and support. 

The holiday season is a time for celebration and joy, but it can also be a season of silent suffering due to people pleasing. The signs of this behavior and its impact on mental health are essential to recognize. Embracing the art of refusal during the holidays means learning to say “no” when necessary, setting boundaries, and seeking support to prioritize your own well-being. This season, let’s break free from the chains of people pleasing and adopt a healthier, more balanced approach to life and self-care. 

Give an Hour, as a dedicated resource for mental health, provides invaluable tools and resources to assist us on this journey. We offer a tool to help recognize the silent signs of suffering, allowing us to identify and address these issues effectively. By visiting ResilienceU (Our new Training Portal), you can explore these tools and the support they provide to enhance your self-care journey. It’s time to let us prioritize our well-being, lean on the guidance of organizations like Give an Hour, and rediscover the joy and true essence of the holidays through a more balanced and self-caring perspective. 

Ryan Young

Marketing and Social Media Manager