Recovering from people pleasing

I am a recovering people pleaser. I have started to say no to more, and I quit a newsletter I had said I would do. I’m still not comfortable with the consequences that sometimes follow saying no. I know intellectually that I can’t control other peoples reaction or how they feel or think about me, but I still fear the rejection and I’m not quite succeeding in releasing the anxiety and worry that follows.

We live in an area where the kids are used to stopping by their friends house all the time. This has been a great advantage in making good friendships, but it can also be too much, for both kids and adults. So we are working on constraining the open house situation. I have talked to the parents of some of the kids we see the most. They somewhat agree and also want to have more one friend at a time over, and more time for family without friends. The change has partly been due to conflicts between some of the kids, that typically escalate when they are three or more at a time, and partly because our boys have been getting into more trouble lately.

My youngest son’s friend asked to go home with us from pre-school today, and I said yes. That was fine, the boys play great together, and he was happy to join us in our tidying activity. Due to some conflict in their usual group of 3 friends, we are working on building more friendship and including them outside of pre-school. So I asked if the third boy wanted to join us. Great, they all played great and everyone was happy. Then a fourth girl came to the door and wanted to play with my son. I was on the phone with a client, and my husband answered the door and made the decision that three was enough, and said it wasnt a good time. I agree, it wasnt a good time. And the three boys and their needs were our priority. Then I get a message that the girl came home crying, feeling very rejected. I knew that would happen, and that it would start a whole new line of trouble with her mother, so I probably would have included her in the playdate if I had answered the door. Even though I didnt want to.

So the question is: Now that I am working on letting the girl, her mother and her mother’s friend have whatever thoughts and feelings they want, it is none of my business, how do I allow for the feelings that follow for me? I am feeling fear of escalating a conflict I am trying to handle. I am sad that the girl felt rejected and cried. I want to set boundaries that work for my family, but I of course dont want other kids to hurt or feel left out. I am very eager to take extra care of kids, and particularly struggling kids. I feel I am so lucky to have abundance that I should care extra, I want to do and give extra. And there is also some past focus problems with being the left out kid as a child, and how unbearably painful that was. I do use the model and managing our mind with my kids, and the kids I coach at soccer, but I know it is harder for kids to handle all of their emotions. I am struggling with the balance.

If I succeed in allowing my emotions, will there still be a painful pinch in my stomach, or does that mean I am resisting the emotions?