Are you secretly wishing you could just fast-forward to January and skip the holiday season? You’re not being a Scrooge but most likely reacting to some old triggers brought on by the holidays. These triggers can be from early childhood celebrations or the most recent ones. Really get curious and begin to jot down these negative, stressful, or sorrowful incidents. This will enable you to bring them to the surface, identify them, and begin to come up with some solutions to release the emotional attachment to them. Taking this action step will enable you to rewire your brain about the holiday season.
You have a choice to continue to recycle your negative thoughts about the holidays or to create a new mindset. It’s possible to do with practice and a lot of awareness.
Here are some suggestions to help get you started on your inner journey to finding joy in the holiday season.
Emotional Triggers About the Holiday
Loss of Loved One(s)
If the thought of celebrating the holidays without your loved one(s) makes your heart ache, consider volunteering your time to a group that is in need of your help. Research indicates that when you volunteer it’s a win-win for all. Your endorphins, the feel-good hormones will kick in as you see your actions making others feel so good.
Maybe you just want to skip the holiday season and take a trip instead. There is no rule that you have to force yourself to celebrate. My sister, who had been a widow for two and a half years decided this was the solution for her this year. She didn’t want to ruminate over Christmas not being the same without her husband. She booked a trip to Balize and as of this posting is having the time of her life. She pushed herself out of her comfort zone and is so happy she did.
You don’t have to go out of the country or even your state. Start investigating what day trip(s) you could take or what local attractions are open during the holiday season. The key is to plan ahead versus waiting until the holidays arrive.
The End of a Relationship
Maybe you’re divorced, separated, or have ended a serious relationship and now dread the holidays. Take the time to establish new holiday traditions instead of focusing on how they used to be with your now estranged loved one. Maybe, you just want to donate to a charity and stop giving presents, go to a movie instead of having a huge celebration, host a potluck dinner with friends, buy a tabletop tree, purchase a new Menorah, the list can go on and on. This can be a wonderful opportunity to explore what traditions no longer work for you and get clearer as to what does. By making this effort, you can get out of a funk and feel more invested in your unique way of celebrating.
Painful Childhood Memories
The holidays can bring up some very painful childhood memories. However, now that you are all grown up you have a choice whether to keep on holding onto them or treat your wounded Inner Child to a magical holiday season. What would make your Inner Child happy?
One year, I decided that going to a tree farm and picking out a beautiful tree was just what my Inner Child needed. I then invited all of my close girlfriends over to help me decorate it. We had so much fun doing this. That was eleven years ago, and I still remember how delighted I felt when we turned on the lights of that beautiful tree. It was a Christmas celebration with much joy.
For you, it could be going to Rockefeller Center in New York, seeing a great Christmas play, watching sappy Christmas movies, buying a beautiful Menorah, and making killer latkes. The point is to re-parent your Inner Child during the holiday season. It’s not too late to do this! Your holidays can transform from sorrowful into joyful.
Dealing with Difficult Family Members
We all long to have a Hallmark type of celebration with our family. However, just because it is the holiday season doesn’t mean that the family dynamics will change. What can shift is your reactions to difficult family members.
Don Miguel Ruiz says this in his classic book, The Four Agreements:
What they say, what they do, and the opinions they give are according to the agreements they have in their own minds… Taking things personally makes you easy prey for these predators, the black magicians… But if you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell.
You can change the way you interact with a difficult relative by setting an intention of how you want to feel during your interaction with them. For example, st the intention of having an interaction that is in a neutral space. By doing so, your brain will start to come up with ways to make this happen. Maybe you’ll think of a few neutral topics for conversation, or begin to practice statements such as,
- “It seems that we agree to disagree”.
- ” I hear what you are saying.”
- ” I can see you are really passionate about …….. “
Taking these actions steps can shift your mindset about your family holiday celebration rather than focusing on trying to change difficult family members. It can be a liberating feeling and lessen holiday stress.
Holding Onto Outdated Traditions
Our world is very different than the ones our parents grew up in. However, when it comes to the holidays, you may be holding onto many outdated traditions. Clinging to them creates an enormous amount of internal stress. Make a commitment to stop trying to relive every aspect of your childhood holiday season.
Instead of making ten batches of your mother’s favorite Christmas cookies pare it down to two or three. Better yet, just buy them at one of your favorite bakeries. You can also purchase pre-made latkes if you just don’t have the time or energy to make them for Hanukkah. It is more important to fully show up for a holiday celebration than to be stressed out and exhausted.
Quiet your mind and decide what you can start taking off your holiday to-do list. Once you give yourself permission to do that you will feel a burden lifted from your shoulders. A lighter feeling about the holidays will begin to emerge.
Embracing these few coaching tips can enable you to begin to move into a state of peace and joy during the holiday season. Let your light shine brightly this holiday!