Because of unrealistically high expectations, the holiday season is often a time when many of us experience unhappiness and sadness.
Regardless of how you answered, there are several important insights that can help you avoid holiday disappointment.
The first is reminding ourselves that each of us has a seven year old “inner-child” living in our unconscious mind filled with all the memories, emotions, and learning’s of childhood. It wants to believe that the holidays will be exciting and magical.
The bright colored lights, the background sounds of holiday music that fill the stores, the inspirational stories and TV movie re-runs of forgiveness, love, reconciliation and healing will all used by our inner-child to magically transform the ordinariness of everyday life into a few days of perfection and wonderful excitement.
Magical thinking can set us up for failure.
In the real world, the holiday season too often tends to bring emotional stress, anxiety, fatigue, financial stress, endless shopping trips, impatient crowds, routine upsetting house guests, and the sadness of knowing there are friends and family that will not be with us.
These holiday stressors are significant emotional factors that tend to cause or encourage over eating, the consumption of too much alcohol, and exhaustion from trying too hard to make everything “wonderful”.
Instead of the perfection and magical time our inner-child was anticipating, we often find our selves feeling overwhelmed, disappointed, sad, and mildly depressed.
In other words, if we can remain consciously awake and aware of our idealistic inner-child as we approach the holidays, it will much easier to avoid the emotional roller coaster that leads to feelings of disappointment and emotional letdown.
The second insight that can be helpful in reducing or eliminating holiday stress is a conscious awareness of how regressive it can be spending time with family members and the “stories from our past” they seem to delight in telling about us.
Story telling is common when family and friends gather to celebrate holiday meals together. These stories from our childhood can be great fun to listen to, but they sometimes stimulate the emotions childhood. It can sometimes be very challenging to avoid regressing back to the powerless feelings of childhood.
These stories are rarely told to intentionally ridicule or harm us, but they can be emotionally painful. When the laughter fades away, the mood of our inner-child can quickly slide into sadness, shame, or depression.
It is important to remain conscious of the feelings and emotions that the stories generate inside us. The stories might be funny, but do they tend to be shaming? Do they portray us as competent or incompetent? Who is the “hero” or “heroine” in the story? Is it you or is it the person telling the story?
Are the stories affirming your strengths or are they embarrassing incidents from the past? Keep in mind it is almost impossible to be around family members and not regress emotionally back to the feelings of childhood.
It does not mean you “are” little, it simply means you may find yourself “feeling” little.
So in a nut shell
a) avoid setting expectations that are too high,
b) know that the holidays will be emotionally tiring,
c) remember it’s easy and normal to regress back into the
feelings of childhood, and finally,
d) give yourself permission to disengage if the feelings start to get overwhelming. Go for a walk. Disappear for a while so you can be alone and reset. Take a short nap.
Bottom line… be easy on yourself and take care of yourself. You will have a much happier holiday experience if you do.
Are you ready????…HAPPY HOLIDAYS!! :-))