As we approach the holidays, some of you may have a tingle of excitement as you anticipate the hustle and bustle of the season, looking forward to seeing family and friends to celebrate. For many however, this can be a very challenging time. Anxiety, dread and worry, are more the norm for so many.
Now that Thanksgiving is behind, there is still Christmas and New Year's right around the corner. Travel, decisions on where to go, and carving out time to shop and cook brings out the worst in some while igniting the joyful adrenalin in others.
The overinflated emphasis on gifts becomes a chore and takes away from the pleasure of the connection, love, and appreciation for many people. For some, there are so many things to do in addition to the already overloaded responsibilities. And for many more, the stress of facing another holiday alone feels unbearable.
Doesn’t sound too Happy or Merry, does it? Yet I know from experience having been on both ends of the spectrum that you can create holiday bliss while honoring what you want and need during this time. You don’t have to straddle the tight rope between sacrifice, obligation, and strain and total seclusion or intense loneliness.
I have one client who has spent almost every year of her life at family gatherings that left her lifeless because she absolutely did not want to attend. She felt so out of place and hated being the only single adult amidst family with husbands and children. Yet she went year after year traveling to be there because it meant so much to her mother. Although she dreaded, when I helped her realize that she was making the choice to attend, she felt a weight lifted off her. Although she really did not enjoy the family gathering, it was important to her to offer this gift to her mother. Seeing it in this light shifted the burden of responsibility that she felt.
I have a friend who compared having to choose Christmases between her mother and her mother-in-law preferable to choosing between having a knife in the eye, or an ax to her head. Her solution is to commit to work obligations that take her out of town. So far this has worked for her. She does not have to have awkward conversations with family about why she does not want to go, and she also enjoys a holiday of her design with her spouse. This works for them.
Another client cried at the thought of his first Christmas morning in 30 years without waking up to the chaos of his children and grandchildren as a result of his recent divorce. Another young woman is devastated at thinking about having to deposit her two children off with their dad at noon for the second year. Last year she just went home and sat in her dark house after leaving them.
Okay, you get the picture and some of you may have no idea of what I am talking about while others will relate too much.
So what is one to do when faced with options that are so unappealing and seem like you have no choice? First all of understand that you DO have a choice. I will show you two examples of where your choice lies.
- Whether you like the options or not, you are making a choice in doing whatever you decide to do. If you would rather run to 3 relatives in one day because you dread saying no to any of them, you are making a choice. When you own that you are choosing, it offers you more freedom. Of course, that does take away the option to complain and blame. It’s up to you.
- So you may not necessarily love the situation and feel like you don’t have a choice in it, (you’re not buying into #1) you do have a choice in how you view it, how you react to it, how you think about it. Your choice is your attitude. This can turn the holidays into an entirely different experience for you. Imagine showing up in the spirit of love and gratitude for having family, friends, and options. In your own heart, you can celebrate what is good in your life and be present in this space. You can choose to just let people be who they are without your reacting or judging them – I know this is a tough one!
I’ve got good news for you here- I am offering a virtual workshop, “Secrets to Holiday Hurray” opportunity to follow up, get your questions answered AND have a laser phone session with me around your particular challenges after the course runs.
I really do know how challenging this time of year can be and I want to help you skate through them as peacefully and easily as possible. Hopefully the tips offered here will help you enjoy a happy Thanksgiving (if you celebrate this American holiday) regardless of your relationship status!