The number one cause of holiday stress is our primitive ego’s need for perfection. We often feel driven to make the holidays “successful”—–and you will define success in what ever way makes sense to you as an individual. If you can intentionally drop your expectations of “perfect” down to an expectation of “good enough”, you will find that much of the holiday stress will disappear.
For example, the house will look “good enough”, not perfectly decorated or cleaned. Remind yourself that it’s a home and people actually live in the home. It’s not a Hallmark post card picture of the perfect holiday house. The meals only have to be “good enough” too. You’re not a five star gourmet restaurant; your goal is simply making people feel welcome in your home.
So when you get to “good enough”, give yourself permission to grab a cup of coffee and step back from all the preparations and remind yourself that the holidays are about people, not a perfect home, perfect meals, perfect gifts, perfect wrappings——you get the point.
The number two cause of holiday stress is your primitive ego’s need to emotionally regress back into childhood when relatives and family members descend on your home, or you descend on theirs.
Everyone has a “life story”. And the more emotional it is, the better our primitive ego likes it. Everyone has a childhood and our childhood experiences are never perfect. Our primitive ego spends a great deal of energy rehearsing and perfecting our “life story” because it’s a primary source of our ego “identity”. The stronger the emotions we carry from childhood, the more it makes us feel like a solid, real “self”.
When family members gather at the holidays, our primitive ego—–the unconscious ego of our inner-child—–pulls out all the feelings and emotions of childhood, dusts off the cover of our “life story”, and regresses our consciousness back to the “good old days” and all the issues of childhood that make up our “life story”.
On an emotional level, we become children again. We regress back to our childhood identity or the “role” we played in our family of origin. Our parents become “parents” again. Our siblings become irritating again. The emotional struggles of childhood return with a vengeance.
When you feel yourself getting caught up in the emotions of childhood, old issues, unresolved old conflicts, the memories of past hurts and disappointments, just remind yourself that you are no longer a child. What you are feeling is history. It’s over. It’s the past. It is a reminder of where you came from; not who you are.
Remind yourself that it’s nothing more than your primitive childhood ego dragging up old emotions to make you “feel” real. Remind yourself that you are a real “adult” living in the present moment. You have skills and unique adult gifts. You don’t need your emotional childhood “life story” to define you as a real person. You “are” a real person right now, right here.
If you can drop your primitive ego’s need for perfection, and the emotional “life story” that it uses to help you feel “real”, you will find that the holidays can actually be fun——not perfect. Just fun. Not an emotional rehash of childhood memories, just a fun time in the here-and-now.
The more successfully you can embrace these two ideas, the more positive emotional memories you will be adding to your adult “life story” as they too slide into memories of past times. Over time, you will have more good memories to make you feel real—–not stressful ones.