Happy Holidays? It’s Up to You

Date posted: December 2, 2012

[dc]A[/dc] client was recently expressing his frustration over the hype, expectations, and overindulgence of the holidays. “It’s as if we’re rushing through the good parts of life,” he said. That statement really struck me. Rushing through the good parts of life. How sad. But often true.

happy holidaysCan you relate? Do you find that the holiday season whizzes by you? Well, it’s not too late to put some measures in place to make this year different.

See if any of the following challenges resonate with you, and consider a new approach to your self-care:

Challenge: I do my best to make everyone happy

Solution: Don’t. It’s impossible. You can’t please all the people all the time, and by attempting to, you end up neglecting the most important person — you.

Maybe dig a bit deeper into your desire or need to make everyone happy. What’s the payout? What consequences are you avoiding by doing so? What’s your motivation behind it? By taking a look under the hood, my guess is you’ll see that this goal has nothing to do with “everyone” and everything to do with you.

Give yourself permission to make your needs a priority, even if it means dealing with the discomfort of disappointing someone. You’ll see that that discomfort quickly shifts to relief and empowerment when you honor your own needs. And, in the long run, your relationships with others deepen and become more authentic.

Challenge: I struggle with family drama and dynamics

Solution: Everyone finds themselves in this boat at some point. My suggestion? Try to love each family member where he or she is at. By that I mean, set your expectations realistically.

If you know that your uncle hasn’t gotten his drinking under control, don’t plan on having deep, meaningful conversations with him. If your Mom tends to stay in the kitchen working, remember, that’s her choice. It’s not your responsibility to get her to relax or join the gathering in the other room. You are only responsible for you. If everyone remembered that, each person could ultimately have the holiday they wanted.

The little kid in us gets excited to have a picture-perfect time with our loved ones, but what he or she forgets is that “picture-perfect” means something different for everyone. A festive day for you may mean gathering around to sing Christmas carols together, but to your brother it might mean a raucous game of poker. Be careful to not set yourself up for disappointment by expecting others’ definition of “memorable” to be the same as yours.

Challenge: I want to pick out the perfect gift for each person on my list, and that stresses me out!

Solution: Yeah, that’s sweet and all, but how do you define “perfect”? If the gift is the right brand name, does that make it perfect? If the thought behind it is loved-filled and heartfelt, then is it perfect? Pay attention to where your definition stems from.

The real gift is in the giving, so if you find yourself overspending to get that designer bag because the recipient is a bit of a label snob, the energy that is then given with the gift is stressful, guilt-ridden, and worrisome instead of comforting and joyful.

This is another area of the season that can be driven by obligation. Review your gift list and see if there’s anyone on there who you’d rather not buy for. While it may not be possible to remove everyone who falls into that category, doing this evaluation can be a great start in coming up with a way to give and not feel resentful about it.

For example, lets say you have to buy a gift for your son’s teacher and you’re really not a fan of hers. Shift your thinking away from her personally and instead think about selecting a present for a favorite past teacher of yours. Doing so could not only make the shopping easier, but could actually soften your feelings about the teacher as well.

Challenge: What if I don’t want to put the “happy” back into the holidays? I’m in a tough place right now and don’t feel much like celebrating.

Solution: It’s particularly difficult during this time of year when you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, are struggling financially, or feel isolated and alone. The idea of putting on a happy mask and pretending to be merry and bright can be so taxing on the soul.

Try and strike a bit of a balance between honoring your current state and challenging yourself to put yourself out there more than you think you can. Choose who you’ll surround yourself with very wisely. Let those who you feel safest with know that you’re having a hard time, if they don’t already, and allow them to love and support you.

Also, give yourself permission to bail out on parties and give your inner child what he or she needs, whether that’s a nap or a good cry.

Challenge: There’s just not enough time to do everything I want or need to do!

Solution: That very well may be true, so you’re gonna have to prioritize what’s important to you. You don’t have to accept every holiday party invitation that comes your way or respond to every request for help. Take a moment to think about what the holiday season means to you. Do your plans or commitments support that?

December isn’t the only time of year to visit with loved ones, so don’t think that you need to squeeze everything into 31 days. Why not extend the holiday season by planning a mid-January or February gift swap with your friends instead of trying to squeeze it in? Last year, Melissa and I waited until two weeks after Christmas to celebrate with my in-laws. That gave us Christmas Day to ourselves to do whatever we pleased. This year, we’ve moved a get together with my high school friends to January so we’ll be able to really be there, in every sense of the word.

When it comes to shopping, give some thought to what you’d like to get or make for those who remain on your list and plan your errands strategically. Whenever I have to pick up anything, I think about where the businesses are located and I plan the order in which I’ll hit them, starting with the one that’s furthest away and ending with the one that’s closest. That particular order may not work for you, but in an effort to save time, and ultimately, your energy, have a plan.

Remember, you get to decide the type of holiday season you’ll have. A new perspective, a little planning, and the willingness to make your needs a priority is all you need to have a one for the memory books!

I’d love to hear from you. What do you struggle with the most during the holidays? How do you plan to take care of yourself? Please join the conversation in the comments below.

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  1. I love it, Kerri, thank you! We choose whether we create from center or react to external. Each scenario and tip you share invites us to tap into a centered space of empowerment and create in ways that resonate well…not only during the holidays, but each day we choose πŸ™‚

  2. Drama along with drinking at my sisters house every year occurs in my hometown. What can I do to avoid this repeat performance again his year?

    • Hi Jan,

      Thanks for joining the conversation! Would you say a little more about the aspects of the experience at your sister’s house that you’d like to avoid… How do you find yourself involved in the drama?

  3. Confronting comments instead of laughter and joy. I have a choice to leave town which my hubby and I did last year. My choice NOW would be to celebrate at our new (this year) lake house only an hour away, with gratitude. THANK YOU, Kerri. Amazing how easy it is to choose peace.

    • Sounds like you’ve made your decision, Jan! Lake house it is! πŸ™‚ If you do find yourself around people who are making confronting comments, think about how you can not even engage. It’s sure hard for them to have a confrontation when the other person doesn’t participate!

  4. Great perspective, Kerri! I’ve been taking steps to re-adjust my expectations of the holidays and I do find that choosing to focus more on experiences than gifts is something that even the kids appreciate.

  5. Thank you, Kerri. Three generations of the female side of my family with abusive verbalizing is what is going on. I am aware of it and do my best to stay silent. Thank you, Kerri. You and your sister, Cheryl are my inspiration.

  6. This Christmas will be really hard, I’ve decided not to attend Christmas Day at my parent’s home. I’ve never done this before. The past year has been emotional with my parent’s and a few sibling’s. The guilt is setting in which I am sure is to be expected. I have to try this, then when a situation present’s itself, I will get a better sense of what is right for me. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed and saying a prayer that come Christmas Day I will be okay.

    • Thanks for sharing, Kate. You’re taking a huge and important step in loving yourself by choosing to do what’s best for you on Christmas. Your feelings of guilt are just a call-out to you from that sweet, little girl inside who needs you to tell her that you love her regardless of any changes that you make. I’d encourage you to explore those feelings a bit more. Try doing some free writing to let her voice be heard. At the top of the page, write, “What do you feel guilty about regarding not going to our parents’ house for Christmas?” Then just write, write, write. I find it usually takes about three pages to get to her voice, so even if you find yourself writing something like “I don’t know what else to write anymore,” that’s ok! Just keep going.

      This beautiful exercise creates a safe place for her to express her feelings. Your only job is to write and listen.

      Then, give some thought to how you can set yourself up for success on Christmas. What can you do to take care of yourself? Plan in advance…

      Sending you lots of love.

  7. Kate, you are already O.K. This can be be a Christmas JUST FOR YOU. Create something so you feel like you are taking care of yourself. Blessings.

  8. Thanks Kerri, You are such an amazing woman!! I bet your Mama is very proud of you.

  9. To Kerri,

    So far so good. Chrismtas Eve my mother came over to my home with Christmas gifts, she was upset that we would not be at her home for Christmas, I thanked her for the gifts and for one slight moment felt guilty about my decision, then it disappeared. I hugged her and she left. My husband and I went out for dinner and drove around looking at light’s although living in the Midwest we missed not having snow but we really enjoyed our Christmas Eve. When we arrived back home he prepared our breakfast cassorole for Chrismtas morning and we have our day planned out, I am looking forward to this and so far am doing better than I thought I would.

    I wish you a “VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS” and a big thank you for bringing an informative website to those of us that need a push every so often, and offer us endless support and encouragement in this crazy world.

    • Hello Kate!

      Thanks for checking in and letting us know how things are going for you! Congratulations on taking that difficult, but much wanted and needed step of doing what’s right for YOU. I’m so, so happy that you’ve enjoyed your holiday!

      Merry Christmas!


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