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Codependency-Free Holidays (Rule Two)

Rule Two: Ask for what you need.

If you want to decorate the tree, tell the people you live with that you want help decorating the tree. If they are unavailable to help, then decide if you want it bad enough to recruit a friend to help you, or to do it alone. If you don’t, for the love of all things glittery, do not hold your decision against everyone else.

Just don’t do it. Just admit that you don’t have the time or energy or patience, and don’t decorate the tree. And if the idea of not doing it is absolutely unbearable, then say no to something else and honor yourself.

Our needs are our responsibility.

Forgive me, if that’s old news to you but I promise that when everybody gets it, I will quit saying it. And until then, it’s important enough to repeat. Ask for what you need.

This might mean staying home instead of attending the third holiday event this week. It might mean buying green beans from the Chinese buffet on the way to your mother-in-law’s house, dumping them into a fancy baking dish, and reheating them before the big, serious family dinner because you dropped the ball on buying fresh ones before the stores closed Christmas Eve (a gift from my second marriage).

It might mean taking a nap.

What would the holidays be like if you spoke of your needs, simply and directly, and the people around you could just respond, simply and directly, with the truth about whether they can meet that need or not? What would it be like it everybody quit trying to be everything for everyone and you got to put yourself first on the list? What would happen if you didn’t do what you didn’t want to do?

It sounds like a Cody-Free holiday to me.

Read more: Christmas, Hanukkah, Mental Wellness, Self-Help, Spirit, Stress, Thanksgiving, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , ,

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Christy Diane Farr

Christy Diane Farr is a catalyst. If that sounds like something you want more of in your life, visit 'The Greenhouse' at and join the Wildflower Evolution on Facebook.


+ add your own
8:03AM PST on Dec 14, 2012


5:37AM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

Thanks for the article.

5:38AM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Thanks for the article.

3:58AM PST on Dec 28, 2011

Good advice.

5:04PM PST on Dec 13, 2011

Thanks, Christy. As a veteran psycho-therapist of 18 years, like you, I teach this stuff every day. Today, after returning from the doc's office and having him tell me to cancel the next three day's clients, this is exactly what I needed to hear.
So, thank you, sister, and a very happy holiday to you :)

12:37PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

Amen and thank you!!

12:20PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

I guess if you are pulling your fair share that would be a perfect program. Sometimes people need a reminder that it's okay if you don't do everything for them and exclude everything and everyone to meet their needs....and yes it is okay if they don't come to a family event. It might even be better if they don't...thank you

12:15PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

(cont'd...where did the character counter go?)

This was not fair to anyone, and went completely against my core belief in self-honestly above all else.

It's been hard, especially since I still live with them and will for the forseeable future, but things are starting to get better, and I feel better about myself for being able to say "No, you can do that for yourself."

12:14PM PST on Dec 11, 2011

"What would it be like it everybody quit trying to be everything for everyone and you got to put yourself first on the list?"

This was my big challenge this fall. Realizing that constantly giving everything I had to save other people from themselves a) wasn't my responsibility, and b) didn't actually save them from anything, was huge for me. Finally realizing that my family's stuff (one of them is a borderline hoarder, the other is just very messy and I live with them), their decisions, and the consequences of their decisions, were not my responsibility was a complete paradigm shift for me. I'm not responsible for any of that, I'm just responsible for making sure that their bad choices affect my life as little as possible.

Part of this was accepting that they are adults and they have the tools and ability inside them to take care of themselves. They don't need me to keep them on track, and if they go off track, it's because they made a choice to do so, not because I didn't save them from themselves. Enabling laziness and irresponsibility (even by nagging about things that need to be done), doesn't help any of us.

I also needed to realize that part of why I was behaving that way was my own need to feel needed. I was selfishly infantilizing them so that I could say to myself "See? They need me; it would all collapse into disaster without me." At the same time, I was resenting them for being so needing and taking everything I had to give and more. This was not fa

9:01AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

thanks. will share.

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