December can be one of the most stressful months of the year, for many people. Whether you are a student with pending exams; a homemaker facing all the tasks of preparing for the holiday season; the financially responsible adult, trying to make ends meet and have enough left over for Christmas gifts; the person who fears blowing their diet with holiday goodies; or the flying phobic who wants a holiday but is terrified of getting on a plane, stress is a common factor. And for many, it can be one of the loneliest times of the year. One of the best stress-reduction, self-care strategies I know for this time of year, is the ability to say “NO!”
Saying “NO” can be very challenging for many people; especially those who have difficulty setting boundaries for themselves or around others. Are you one of those people? Are you the person who has always cooked the Christmas meal each year, and are desperate for someone to take it over, but feel guilty asking? Are you caught up with inner “shoulds” about what MUST be done to make the holidays “perfect,” but exhausted or financially stressed as a result? Are you the person who knows that the temptations of holiday goodies, drugs or alcohol will damage your health but cannot say “NO” and then suffer the consequences? Are you a spouse who has dutifully gone each year to visit in-laws for the holidays, when you would really just love time alone with your hunny, or a even a separate holiday? Are you a student who needs to brush up for exams but have difficulty saying “NO” to friends or family who want to lure you with other distractions? Finally, are you a person who finds yourself sinking into a yearly depression at Christmas time?
For many people, saying “NO”, brings up fears: fear of looking selfish; fear of being rejected or unloved if they show vulnerability or declare their needs and feelings; fear of other’s negative judgements of you don’t feel you measure up to expectations; fear of losing out or being deprived of pleasure, to meet a more important goal. All of these kinds of fears tend to show up when a person’s NO to another or themselves , is really a YES! for their authentic Self.
YES! – Saying NO when it honours your own needs and feelings is really a YES for your authentic self. If we truly want to honour our self and others, it is essential that our actions are congruent with who we really are. This means we must give them the gift of revealing our true self as well as hearing theirs. Sometimes our fears are related to childhood events, where we had a negative experience related to expressing oour feelings or needs. These events can then contribute to core beliefs about our own worthiness or lovability. For example: “I am only loveable if I put everyone else first; I have to be the responsible one to be worthwhile; people will think I am selfish if I ask for what I want.” But usually these beliefs are erroneous, or they are based on our point of view as a young, vulnerable, dependent child; not as a capable adult.
What about people who feel depressed or lonely over the holiday season? In this town, with many singles and people whose families live far away, the situation is common; but it does not need to be a time of misery. However, it may require saying “NO” to being a victim of one’s situation, and taking action to connect with others and seek support. Inviting other single friends for an “orphan’s dinner, volunteering at the numerous Community events, asking a family to “adopt” you for the holidays, or treating yourself to some extra special pleasures that can pull you into a YES state of enjoyment, can all be effecting in dispelling the holiday blues. If it seems just too overwhelming, then honour your needs, say YES to yourself, and seek professional help.
As a user and practitioner of the fabulous self-care tool called Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as EFT or Tapping) I have found that time and again, it can assist people in expressing a healthy “NO” when it is in their best interest. And, it can be helpful for releasing unhealthy NO’s related to depression, or anxieties, which stop people from living with ease. Individuals with fears or phobias such as: flying; heights; elevators; small furry critters, insects, crowds, public speaking, exams, or interviews (to name just a few) can limit their true nature and block self-fulfillment because their unconscious mind says “NO WAY! ”when they really would like to say YES!
The simple and easy to learn EFT Tapping process can help people of any age, to work on present day or past issues that block them from speaking their truth, asking for help, widening their horizons and living with more ALIVENESS! Check it out at my website, www.karenledger.ca where you will find free EFT Tapping instructions, so you can try it for yourself or email me to arrange a for a Free 15 minute phone Consultation and/or a private counselling session. This may be the best gift you ever gave yourself!
Wishing You an Authentically Happy Holiday Season
Karen Ledger, RN BScN., Health Education and Counselling