Around the holidays we are often confronted with the same difficulties we have experienced year after year. Family pressures, repeat arguments, logistical challenges, etc. While we can’t always change the cyclical pattern, we do have control over the choices we make within those situations, and therefore have the ability to control our experience of those otherwise complicated and uncomfortable moments.
The holidays are meant to be joyous - for everyone. If you aren’t finding the holidays bring you that experience, look more closely at the choices you are making that allow them to be less than pleasant.
1. Examine Your Situation – Be aware of what creates an unpleasant holiday season for you. What happens in connection with the holidays that you don’t like? What situations, conversations, etc. do you expect to encounter that are distressing?
2. Make Decisions – With a clear head, and before any plans are firm, decide what you want. If your spouse and parents don’t get along, consider staying in a hotel to minimize tensions. If splitting time between several relatives is exhausting, decide if they can come to you, join together, or take turns (every other year), to keep things simpler. If you hate being around family arguments, decide what steps you want to take if an argument erupts. This step is about making decisions for YOU. Since doing what you’ve always done, will lead you where you’ve already been, make decisions on how you will make this year different for yourself.
3. Take Responsibility – Once you’ve looked at your options and made decisions, take responsibility for those choices, informing others as necessary. Simply state the facts of your decision without inviting other’s opinions or feeling compelled to explain your own rationale. If you opted not to make changes, find peace with that decision as well by acknowledging your good reasons for leaving things as they are, and focusing on the positive things you do get out of your situation.
4. Focus on the Positive – You could choose to focus on the negative, and leave yourself feeling unenthusiastic or depressed. Or you could bring your optimistic self and make your experience a pleasant one. Notice the smiles of a child opening a present, feel the joy of your parent’s delight at being surrounded by the whole family, savor the familiar foods or sights you get to enjoy just at this time of year. By making a choice to find the positive and the enjoyment, you will reap what you sow.
Wishing you a very happy holiday season!