Featured image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay
Here are some holiday expectations and narratives I have heard over the last few weeks. Do any of them sound familiar?
- The holidays are so stressful, there is so much to do beforehand, and I run around all month long.
- I wish my husband would help more, but I always have to organize most of it.
- Our teenager is going to be grumpy and will ruin the celebration.
- I hope my mother-in-law doesn’t make her usual critical comments. She should be nicer.
- My son should make an effort to give more meaningful gifts.
- I hope my brother-in-law does not get drunk and behaves rudely again.
- My daughter-in-law never watches the children properly, and I have to take care of them.
What if you were able to accept and love whatever unfolds? You can examine these stories for the truth using the four questions by Byron Katie. You will realize that you are already stressed about something that has not yet happened. You will also notice that your expectations or need for things to be different create a lot of stress for you.
Instead of hoping that your partner will help you more, that your teenager will enjoy the celebration and be communicative, that your mother-in-law will not be critical, that your grown-up children will give you the perfect gift, that your brother-in-law will not get drunk, or that your daughter-in-law will discipline the children in the way you think she should expect that nothing will be different this year, except you will be okay with what is.
No matter how hard you try, you cannot get your family members to conform to your hopes and expectations. They do what they do and will likely continue their distressing and disturbing behaviours because they are going through their own inner struggles. Perhaps they are triggered just as much by your words and actions.
This year decide to change for yourself. You can experience a holiday season filled with inner peace and joy. Here is a little trick: Think of 4 things you feel grateful about and burn them into your memory. Then, when you begin to feel stressed and are telling your old holiday narratives, start recalling your gratitude list. Your focus will change, and your feelings will follow.
Why does this work?
Our brain can only consciously focus on three to four things simultaneously. But we have a choice of what to focus on at each moment. So for the holidays, focus away from what you don’t like and recall what you appreciate.
If you would like help releasing your holiday stories, reach out for a coaching session