THREE CHRISTMAS VISITORS:
The Pleaser, The Boss, and The Leave-Me-Aloner
Written by: Briony Croall – Transpersonal Coach
As we enter into the holiday season and the prospect of spending extended time with our families and friends, feelings of pressure and overwhelm can overtake the spirit of this time of year- love, sharing, and togetherness. To help ourselves to remain in joy, it can be useful to recognise some characters within ourselves and others that especially rear their heads at Christmas.
The Pleaser wants Christmas Day and the rest of the holidays to go off without a hitch, wants everyone to
feel comfortable, taken care of and relaxed, and will do whatever it takes to make others happy. Pleasers
are thoughtful, kind, and generous by nature, and are experts in ignoring their own needs. Their desire to
please often is unconsciously driven by a desire for love, and so there is a level of subtle but constant
anxiety that accompanies their actions. When we ignore our own needs- for a rest, for some help- a small
voice within builds in resentment and asks, ‘What about me?’ Pleasers are the affable, quiet characters who
suddenly explode when their inner anxiety and resentment face off with each other.
If you are a Pleaser: this Christmas, ask for help. People love to pitch in and contribute. It makes them feel
good. And introduce your pleaser mind to this concept: People don’t love you for your seafood preparation
skills; they love you for you. If you spot a Pleaser (easy to do, they’ll be the ones repeatedly asking if you’re okay / have enough to eat /need anything at all): Get them a plate of food. Put your hand on their shoulder and say, ‘Let me do that’. Give them a hug for no reason.
The Boss wants things the way they want things, on Christmas Day and throughout the year. In their minds,
there’s a right way and a wrong way to execute every aspect of the festivities, and if there’s any deviation,
you can expect either a short scolding or a bark-like shout. (Or a scolding bark, my Grandpa’s specialty.) The
Boss is a genial host and, like the Pleaser, wants everyone to have a great time. The problem is that, to
them, a great time comes with rules. Internally, Bosses are incredibly hard on themselves, and project this
outwards. And they believe that if they’re not in control, they’re vulnerable, which they resist feeling at all
If you are a Boss: step out of the rulebook on Christmas Day, and into your heart. You have high standards
and strong beliefs, and adhering to them can sometimes lead to your overlooking opportunities to connect
with others, and show them the love and respect you feel. Take a moment to watch those around you
through eyes of appreciation. Praise someone; in effect, you’re praising yourself, which you deserve.
If you spot (or hear) a Boss: help them let their guard down by not responding to them as you usually
might, with fear or reactivity- this only validates their position. Instead, recognise that their shouting and
scolding are a cover, and at some point, sit down with them and ask them to tell you a story. Their heart
will realise what you’re trying to do, and will open.
We all may experience this inner character before, during, and after the holidays! But as an archetype, the
Leave-Me-Aloner prefers to stay on the periphery of action; finds more comfort in solitude than in
company (they’re the ones who drift away from the party to check their phone / emails / the cricket score
every 10 minutes); and is the unforthcoming ‘hard nut to crack’ in conversation- the one we don’t want to
be sat next to at the lunch table. At some point in their lives, Leave-Me-Aloners came to believe they
weren’t wanted, and now generally have a buried internal script running that they’re not fun, interesting,
or worthwhile to be around. They can come across as grumpy and anti-social, but often it’s a protection for
low self esteem- they’re rejecting you before you can reject them. (This isn’t always the case- some people
just love being alone as much as others love company.) The thing about these characters is that, while
they’re funny and fascinating people when you get to know them, they usually achieve their goal- they are
indeed left alone. If you are a Leave-Me-Aloner: remember that you are as special as the next person, and your presence at the table is as welcome as any other’s. People want you there, and would love to listen to you. Give them a chance to surprise you with their curiosity. The Ashes will still be on in an hour’s time, and England’s
batting will still be woeful!
If you spot a Leave-Me-Aloner: once you realise the cause of their lone-wolf ways, it can be tempting to
try and pry these characters out of their shells with force, albeit well-meaning. That won’t work. What they
will respond to is kindness, consideration, and curiosity. Find a point of affinity. Gently bring them into the
conversation, invite them to help you pour the mimosas, remind them of the time they made you laugh at
Uncle Ken’s 60th. They may not leap into animation, but at least they’ll know the door is open.
We all have our different ways of managing the socialness of the holiday season. If we each can take a moment to reach beyond our needs and see beneath the surface of our loved ones’ behaviours with eyes of compassion and understanding, we can free ourselves from the tensions of expectation and demand.Others will feel this and be liberated, too. As the above examples suggest, any situation can be uplifted by the giving of love.
Merry Christmas, with love from all of us at Optimum Health Essentials!