This can be a tricky time of year for a lot of people celebrating holidays in November and December.
On the one hand, there’s often times the anticipation of good food, good company and an all around good time.
On the other hand, it can be a time of getting off balance, feeling disappointed and experiencing stress if we don’t prepare ourselves with the intentions of staying ‘on course’ during this time.
5 Ways to Stay On Course this Holiday Season
1 – Discuss Expectations
Try having a pre-holiday conversation with those you spend time with. Everyone has different expectations about what the holidays should look like. Why not find out what everyone is thinking and feeling to see if it’s possible for all to enjoy and relax.
Here are a few questions to ask to get started:
- What do you enjoy about the holidays?
- What don’t you enjoy? Set this question up so everyone feels they can be honest without the risk of hurting other’s feelings.
- How have each of us gotten off balance during previous holiday seasons?
- Are there any changes we can make this year to try and stay more balanced?
2 – Examine Your Obligations
Start by making a list of everything you typically do during the holidays.
Then, next to each item, determine which you do out of obligation and which you do because it brings you joy, meaning and satisfaction.
Finally, consider removing as many items as you can from your ‘obligations’ list. If you struggle with deciding which to remove, consider where this sense of duty comes from by asking yourself some of these questions:
- Why is this required of me?
- What’s the worse that can happen if I don’t fulfill this sense of duty?
- Who will it impact? How and why?
- Who should I talk to before making a final decision to remove this from my obligations list? (perhaps they feel the same way and no one wants to say it)
3 – Stop the Comparisons
The comparison trap can be worse at this time of year. You find yourself looking at others and saying, “how do they have so much energy?”, “why do they think this is fun and I don’t?”, “how can they afford all that?”
Here’s the thing…If I answered those questions for the people you are comparing your life to, this is what you’d probably hear:
- “I’m so exhausted and aggravated my family doesn’t like being around me.”
- “I look like I’m having fun but I’d rather be home cuddled in a blanket with a warm cup of cider.”
- “I’m going to have to spend the first half of next year climbing out of the holiday debt I just created for myself.”
Those are the things you don’t hear when you can only see things from the outside.
4 – Lower your Expectations
Yes, I said it. Expect less. My main focus with tip #4 is in relation to visiting family.
Ram Dass, a spiritual teacher once said, “If you think you’re enlightened, go and spend a week with your [family].”
For years I would walk away from family gatherings with some form of inner turmoil, regardless of how much personal growth I was experiencing that year.
I finally decided the best way for me to feel good after those visits was to stop having expectations.
I stopped expecting things to go a certain way.
I stopped expecting anyone else to be on the same personal growth path I was on.
I stopped expecting that someone wouldn’t say something offensive or irritating.
Instead, I now choose to relax into whatever happens and find the joy in each moment. I choose to allow all family members to be on their own path of personal growth no matter how fast or slow it’s going. I also choose to no longer be offended or irritated by comments or conversations (to the best of my ability….wink).
It is a choice! Yes. It really is.
The great thing about free will is you get to choose ALL of your reactions and responses, even the negative ones.
Now, in order to walk away from family functions without inner turmoil, you can try choosing a different response to whatever happens.
5 – Take a Pass or Simplify
Permission granted if frankly, you just prefer to take a pass on the holidays altogether. Ok, maybe it didn’t turn out so hot for the Kranks, but it was definitely worth a try. Of course, that was dramatized.
It really could be a great option to consider.
Perhaps all the money you’ll spend on gifts and entertainment could go towards a special family vacation next year?
Or perhaps it could go towards making an extra payment on current debt so you feel like you’re getting further ahead rather than taking steps back.
The second one sounds like a great idea to me :).
What if you make it your goal to enjoy the holidays without spending a dime?
Or, cutting your obligations in half?
Or, doing just a few things you find most meaningful?
You may just find yourself having the best holiday season ever!
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