The song goes, “’Tis the season to be jolly, fa la-la-la-la . . .” But the truth is the holidays are filled with mixed emotions for many people. While waiting for a dental appointment recently, I overheard this conversation between another patient and the dentist’s clerk:
“I love the holidays. And, I don’t like the holidays.”
“I know. When I was a kid, I really loved the holidays.”
“I know.” (Laughter from both.)
How we perceive and experience the holidays is a matter of expectations. We may set our expectations too high, based on what we think everyone else expects or wants. When we lose sight of what’s important to us and do what we think others expect, we set ourselves up for holiday havoc.
Leading up to the holidays, one client told me she dreaded Christmas morning with her family. There was too much stress over presents, too much noise and commotion, too much jockeying among the siblings for her parents' favor. We discussed what she wanted out of this holiday, what she enjoyed. She loved time with the children, taking pleasure in their enthusiasm and conversations with them. So she shifted her focus to creating a warm, memorable time with the kids. Concentrating on connecting with each one, she experienced a much different and better holiday.
To create the holiday season we want, we first need to identify what we don’t want to experience. In speaking with clients, many of their responses seem universal. No one relishes exhaustion, feeling left out, weight gain, or dealing with difficult people. When it comes to shopping, many are dissatisfied with holiday commercialization, incurring debt, and being rushed.
Next, we determine what we do want, what our intentions are for ourselves. Maybe it’s fun, memories, connection, a sense of peace, relaxation, time to enjoy family, everyone pitching in, or harmony.
Then, the important, shift-producing questions we ask are: What’s it going to take from me to achieve what I want? What do I have to do, and who do I have to be to create that experience?
With our intentions in mind, we approach each activity or event deciding how we need to respond, and we consciously choose our yeses and nos. “No” to playing into a relative’s moodiness. “Yes” to creative gift-giving, and “no” to overspending. “No” to heavy foods on the buffet table, and “yes” to crudités (light on the creamy dip).
Holidays are like a game in which people have different sets of rules. We can be part of others’ games and still play our own game when we are fully aware of what we want and don’t want. And, we make our choices accordingly.
Happy Holidays. Let this be your season to celebrate.
Copyright © 2010 Annis Cassells. All rights reserved. A life coach, speaker and writer, Annis can be reached at HeyAnnis@sbcglobal.net