Actually the real name of this article is “Nancy’s Sure Fire Five Stage Introverts’ Recovery from Frenetic Over Activity at Holidays Game Plan”.

Here’s how I developed this plan. A reader recently wrote me:

“I love my family and my in-laws, but only in small doses. The string of holidays coming up fills me with dread because I feel pressured to go from one social event to the next. The family is actually offended when I don't show up - no matter what excuse I make - because they think that I should WANT to be with them. Family pressure can be worse than teen-aged peer pressure. Any suggestions about how to stop feeling OBLIGATED TO BE SOCIAL?”

This was my reply:


How heartily I sympathize with you! For introverts, holidays can be, well, an ordeal. Actually, I think Dante’s Inferno should have included an eternal sentence to family gatherings and holidays for the crime of perpetrating them on others!

Don’t get me wrong. I love my family. I have explained to each of them carefully and patiently on many occasions that I’m an introvert, holidays are exhausting and I’d rather plan my visits with them at quiet times during the year when we can really visit.

There’s a more serious side as well. Introverts are stressed with socializing. We give energy; extroverts take energy. Being stressed at this time of year can easily lead to illness.

Let’s look at a strategy here. We need to break this down into bite sized pieces so you can win from the very start. I call this “Nancy’s Surefire Five Stage Introverts’ Recovery from Frenetic Over Activity at Holidays Game Plan”. Let’s assume that over the next five years, you’re going to turn the holidays into something that works for you.

Stage One: We begin with the inside first, because from the inner comes the outer. Let’s begin with a (1) declaration of independence, (2) the resolution to persevere and succeed no matter how slowly at first and (3) the sure knowledge that you will find the ways and means. For this year, that’s quite enough. You may not be able to bring much change in your outer world but you have a plan and it will succeed.

Step Two, Level One: Begin the educating process. Each time you interact with a family member during the months and year ahead, also at this year’s holiday events, find a way to slip in a remark about introversion as a legitimate personality style. It’s true, introverts need to spend at least half their time alone for good mental health. If you need to brush up on your facts, there are some good resources for free on the Internet including and my site.

Stage Two, Level Two: Also during this time period and the year ahead -- and this is critical to success -- whenever you interact with a family member outside of the holiday context, especially one-on-one, plant the seed.

Use some positive reinforcement for your Game Plan. Tell them how much you are enjoying this quiet visit, how meaningful it is to interact with them without the distraction of so many other people around and how much easier it is for you because you’re an introvert and introverts [insert any one of the qualities about introversion you want them to learn.]

Remember when people are learning something new, you can often repeat exactly the same thing many times before they actually hear it. This is human nature, so be patient and willing to repeat simple information many times.

Stage Three: At next year’s holidays, after a full year of love, attention, consciousness raising and educating, you’ll remind your dear ones on a few occasions that as an introvert you’re going to pass on this one.

Stage Four: Following years, you’ll excuse yourself from at least half the events or attend only half the time, and at the same time begin creating ways of observing the holidays that are more meaningful to you. I like staring at the Christmas tree lights and listening to beautiful music in my own home. I find this spiritual and fulfilling. I also like candles. And I totally love singing carols at the piano with my daughter.

Stage Five: Complete emancipation, enjoying the holidays your way. A little with the dear ones, a lot for yourself! It can take awhile, but progress will be noted and relief is afforded every stage along the way.

It also sounds like you have a family we describe in astrology as Neptunian. (There are two basic types of families, Uranian and Neptunian.) Neptunian families actually fear people who can stand alone and are threatened by them. Perhaps that is why you were born in to this family. The secret healing is that in beginning to carve out your own territory, you will be giving others in the family permission to do so as well. Watch and see! It’s exciting for people to discover that they can differentiate and come into their own. You’ll be leading the way.

P.S. As a warm introvert who loves people, I’ll pass along to you my #1 bullet to load in the gun when things just get too much this year. Plead sick but be sure to use the family values: “I’m not going to come because it would just kill me for (frail 90-year old Uncle Sweetheart) or (NewBorn Baby Tootsie) to catch what I’ve got. It just wouldn’t be right.”

In this example, you’re making the family values work for you. Be sure to say what vulnerable members of the family you are protecting thoughtfully by not coming. This indicates that you are thinking of the family at all times, whether or not you can personally be there.

Good luck! Check back with me this time next year for progress. If you have any questions about this, please email me at I’m here to support you.

Author's Bio: 

Nancy R. Fenn is the IntrovertZCoach. Her mission in life is to raise consciousness about introversion as a legitimate personality style.