The answer to an overstayed welcome
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Help! Everyone gathers at my house and they stay longer than I want them to. I feel bad that I am not more “welcoming,” but I now dread family gatherings. May I have your advice?
First of all, I always tell my clients and students to accept how they feel without judging their feelings as “good” or “bad,” or “right” or “wrong.” When you do, you add another unnecessary layer to an already challenging situation. So, embrace and acknowledge your feelings. Everyone’s privacy needs differ. You have the right to feel the way you feel, as well as set your own rules for your home.
It’s OK to speak up
In Hawaii, because of our local culture, many tend to feel “bad” about speaking up, burying their own needs instead. However, it is important that you honor and express how you feel. This issue is in your life to offer you the opportunity to speak up and empower yourself.
Keep this in mind
Why have you not spoken up prior to this? Is it that it’s more important to keep the peace and do the “right” thing, according to your family, rather than respect your own time? Is it because it wasn’t worth the hassle of hearing your mother or family disapprove? Keep in mind that you have always had a choice; you just chose the easiest path at the time.
Since you now dread the gatherings, it’s time to make a change. Remember that you are your own authority, and anything that makes you feel resentful is not healthy. Suppressing your feelings can never lead to a positive outcome.
Pre-pave an easier path
The next time a family event is coming up, establish rules. Determine what time will work for you to end the gathering and do your best to let everyone know it in advance. Before the gathering, announce it by email, conversations with those attending, or you can ask others to spread the word. For example, you can say something like, “I have a very busy week coming up and look forward to spending time with everyone, but I’m letting everyone know now that we’ll need to wrap up around 9 p.m.”
The first time you do this, it may be difficult. Even thinking about doing this may give you anxiety, but, if you don’t set the boundary, others will do it for you, and your resentment will continue to build.
Can’t take that much flack?
Another option is to consider asking to change the location to another relative’s house, or to a restaurant for a change. Many options exist, and anything you can do that takes you one step closer to what feels better for you is a start. Remember, if you don’t put forth the effort, nothing will change.
Do you have a question for Alice? If so, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alice Inoue is the founder and Chief Happiness Officer at Happiness U, a friendly educational establishment, where you’ll find inspiring classes geared toward personal growth and self-development. Visit YourHappinessU.com.