It’s funny, last week I was saying how I feel ready for the holidays for once. Then I realized that Thanksgiving was next Thursday and all that calm I felt went right out the window. To be honest I am not really sure why. I mean, I am making two things. I don't have to clean my house for weeks because people are coming over, or get up at the butt crack of dawn to start a turkey. So why do I feel so anxious?
We see family that we haven’t seen since last year, while the decorations and meaning of the holidays are meant to bring people together with joy, love, and incredible happiness. These are feelings you only get to have this one time of year. If I don't feel these feelings from November 1st to January 2nd, then there must be something wrong with me! Somewhere along the way I think I got it into my head that the holidays are supposed to be perfect.That’s a lot of pressure, or at least it is to me.
I remember having the most amazing holidays when I was a kid. Each year I have been trying to recreate that feeling but it never completely materializes. That thought got me thinking. As a kid we don’t have all the responsibility of being an adult and could just enjoy the moment. Just live in that moment. Now have to think past this moment into the next fifty so I can stay on track.
This year I have decided to TRY to stay in the moment when I can. Stop to admire the decorated tree or smell the wonderful scents of the season. I don't have to do that 24/7 but two or three times out of day is doable. So this season, remember to stop and breathe in the season, just one moment at a time.
The holidays, or really any time of year, family can be hard to deal with. Everyone seems to have a comment (usually more like a criticism) of what you are doing in your life. I have to admit that usually my first reaction is to tell me husband “I have had enough, I’m not going over there any more!” or my favorite “we have always wanted to move to…” insert your favorite place here. The little guy in my head reminds me that I would just be running away and that has never solved anything. “Remember your training” he says. It is usually about this point I don't like the guy in my head because he is right and I want to swim in the pool of self pity for a little longer.
The truth is we have no control over what anyone else does or says! We can only control how we react to it. So when aunt Martha comments on your relationship status try to remember that there was a certain lifestyle expectation for women in her day. So in her own way she is looking out for you and wants you to have a good life. Once we can try to see things from someone else’s perspective we may be able to change how we react to what is said.
One of the questions I am asked most starting this time of year is “How do I get through the holidays with my family?” We kind of know what aunt Martha, cousin Michael and uncle Max is going to say or do. They do they same things every year, so not much is really going to be a surprise. What could be different is your mindset, your perspective, YOU.
By changing how we think about something we can open a whole new world with less anxiety, anger and hurt feelings. Just remember you can’t control what anyone else does. You can ONLY control how you react to it. The best place to work though your feelings of hurt, anger, or resentment are not at the dinner table on Thanksgiving but in a licensed therapist’s office. That way we keep all our relationships on good terms.