We come upon it honestly… the expectation of joyous holidays!
The image and story that fill our minds since grade school days with countdowns till recess and dreams of sugar plum fairies and families with kind words, delicious food and festivities. These visions have been installed, mostly subconsciously and consistently reinforced by media messages and consumer advertising. Our holy days are sitting ducks for expectations to sneak out of our unconscious minds and reek havoc with our current reality. The higher and more specificly detailed the expectations, the steeper the potential disapointments.
Ask yourself about your ideal holiday and you will experience/can almost compute– your risk for anxiety and disappointment.
Would you prefer that your entire family be together rather than separated along the lines of in laws, divorce constraints or undeniable geography?
Would you prefer to pick and choose your relatives and how they would ideally behave?
Are there perfectionistic “shoulds” shouting their suggestions for your dinner designs and relentless demands decorating your internal conversations as you go about your planning process?
Your best shot against being overtaken by holiday disappointment — the shadow side of holiday joy, is to take stock of what you expect, what you wish, what you need and what you desire. Discernment is paramount here. If we can shine a light on what we are expecting of ourselves and others, we can modify and lighten up the unwanted cloud of depression that can often get in the way of holiday joy!
Keep your plans as simple as possible and focus largely on the heart of the matter. When in doubt, remember that grace and gratitude are mindsets that mediate negativity and increase the contentment quotient for your holiday season. And needless to say, the less stress you accumulate during this season, the less of an exhausted (physically and financially) backlash you’ll experience in January!