We have been through a lot this year. The holidays are typically about giving, especially from parents to kids and everyone else. This time of year is often exhausting on a “normal year.” Families set up these expectations of gatherings, parties, large meals, gift exchanges, greeting cards, the whole 9 yards. The self-inflicted rules and stress have changed this year, and I think it is worth asking how much of the usual stuff you want to do. Better yet, how much of the usual stuff can you not do at all.
- Decide what you want and need emotionally. Honestly, it is healthy to ask yourself this question routinely; however, definitely take the opportunity to ask yourself now, “What do I want, and what do I need?”. Many parents go into the pressure mode of creating the winter holidays to meet their kids’ expectations. I want you to question that idea. Be honest, are you making the holidays for your kids, or are you creating them for how you want to feel? Ask yourself what I need to stay sane? What do I need to recharge? What do I wish emotionally to experience this year? Will I thrive if I connect more with friends and family or connect less? There is no wrong answer, but at least know ahead of time what you want. I know some of you will go straight to “what can I handle?” This is the wrong question. We seldom dare to ask ourselves, what do we want. One cool thing about the pandemic is that it is a little easier to break unnecessary cultural norms. You have permission to do less or do more, or change it up completely.
- Decide how you want to feel first. Do you want to feel peaceful, connected, joyful, cozy, comforted? Some of you may want to feel sad, and that is fine. Once you grab onto the emotion you chose, figure out what it looks like during your coming weeks. For instance, if you’re going to feel peaceful, does that mean not shopping as much and spending more time playing board games or watching movies? If you’re going to feel joy, what gives you pleasure? Will you go on hikes, bake cookies, sleep in with your partner? If you want to feel sad, does that look like looking through old photo albums or sitting with some music that moves you?
- You always have the power to choose what matters to you. Even in past years, when you felt obligated to go to office holiday parties, bake for the kid’s school party, or put up lights around the house, you did not have to do any of it. I challenge you to own that those were choices you made by yourself.
- Embrace even the most obnoxious people in your family. It is much more fun to get curious about why Uncle Joe says stupid annoying things. You know ahead of time that he is going to say some things that go against your grain. It is so much more fun to get curious about him rather than try to change him, avoid him, or wait for him to see the err of his ways. I like to pretend I am an anthropologist when I am around people I don’t particularly enjoy. Being an anthropologist in my head gets me curious rather than frustrated.
- Learn to set some boundaries. If you know that certain people or situations will drain your energy and you want to self preserve, decide ahead of time what your boundaries are. For example, if you can’t see yourself getting curious about Uncle Joe, and would rather not talk politics with him, tell him! And if he crosses that boundary, decide that you will leave the room to self-preserve. If you don’t want to voice the perimeter, you can choose for yourself actions to take if politics comes up. Either way, the boundary is not for Uncle Joe. It is a rule for yourself with the intention of self-preservation. You are the boss of you, and you keep the power. Boundary setting is the best. Try it out.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself happy first, or if not happy, at least at peace. Create it from a place of love and respect for yourself first, and everyone around you will respond in kind.
If you want to take this type of work deeper, sign up for a free 10 to 20-minute discovery call with Elaine and discover if hypnotherapy/life coaching is right for you. Click here to schedule