The Antidote to Holiday Hassles

by Suzanne E. Harrill    

Many of us easily get upset and disappointed during the holidays. As we approach the holiday season, our wishes, hopes, and dreams surface. Our hopes to experience joy, peace, love, and fulfillment get intensified. The images we see on T.V. or in magazines show happy people, experiencing only good things. This can cause us to have unrealistic expectations. Besides this, many of us live away from our roots, our family and close friends are not available and we feel detached and missing those warm feelings of connectedness.

In order to get the most out of the holidays, it is a good idea to realize when our expectations are unrealistic. When we expect too much when it involves others or want to repeat something from the past, we can miss new opportunities to enjoy the holiday season. Why not spend a little time before the holidays to develop a fresh outlook so that you are realistic about what can be experienced this year. Let us look at several areas.

First, most of us want to be part of the fun. Define what fun is for you. Maybe it is going to parties, laughing, and enjoying companionship in large groups. Accept invitations if it feels right for you and monitor yourself to see where hidden expectations might lurk. If you find that once you arrive too much of your time is spent eating the goodies or drinking alcohol, take that as a red flag. Pause to ask yourself some questions such as, "Am I disappointed? What expectations did I have about the party? (Maybe the host/hostess is busy and you are on your own). How can I meet a new friend, what risk might I take to get some conversations going with new people?" When you get home ponder where your needs were met or not met. For some it might be better to spend time with a smaller group; perhaps going to a concert is more likely to meet your needs. You can have fun and enjoy the holiday spirit whichever way you choose. Just be true to yourself. The key, spend time getting clear with yourself as you open to new experiences and opportunities.

Next, take a look at your family gathering. Maybe the pictures of happy families gathered around a dinner table or a piano singing does not meet the reality of your own family. If you have never experienced a holiday like the ones in the commercials, it may be best to slow your expectations down. As we work with our own perspective, attitudes, beliefs we experience different results whether others change or not. Before you arrive at a family gathering, prepare yourself for your family and ask yourself how to get the most out of the time spent. It is good to have goals and want to get your needs met with your family; however, it is up to you to do this.

Ask yourself how you can improve the warmth and connectedness and avoid the superficial emptiness of a large group. Then listen to your own advice. Talk to folks one-on-one and listen to what they want to say, rather than listening to the most dominant person speaking to the larger group. Look for small changes in getting more out of your family gatherings. This will help you to be more realistic and will help you avoid expecting too much too fast. Remind yourself that life is a process and that the only one you can really change is yourself. Remember, though, that as you behave or speak differently, it changes the dynamics of the group.

If you feel the stress of the material culture we live in and the gift giving bothers you, spend some time with yourself to get clear about your own values. Renegotiate with others such things as toning down the dollar amount of the gifts exchanged this year or agree to only give something you have created. Giving from the heart is what the spirit of Christmas is all about, not duty and obligation or keeping up with the Jones.

Remember to practice self-care during the holidays. Continue your exercise routine and spiritual practices. Each day take a few moments to preview the day and see where you might do things a little differently this year to avoid the hassles of the season and get into the excitement of creating your life the way you choose.

The next time you buy into the collective images of what the holidays are about, consider doing it differently, so you won't be hassled by unfulfilled expectations. The antidote to feeling hassled by the holiday season is to stay tuned into yourself and to take small steps to create more of what you want.





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