7 Ways to Change Your Thoughts
Have you ever felt that no matter how hard you tried, the holiday season just seemed hard? Have you secretly dreamed of doing away with all the old traditions and escaping the pressure, expectations, and noise of the holidays? If so, you are not alone. For many people the holidays can be a challenging time. Perhaps they bring up memories of unpleasant past holidays, or are a reminder of the things you want in your life that are missing. Maybe you find it hard to feel joyous when it seems like you are inundated with messages to overspend, overeat, and overdo. Maybe you feel far from celebratory after watching the news or hearing about the latest developments in our country and in our world. If this sounds familiar, it is time to reframe how you think about the holidays.
Here’s the good news about holidays, (and life in general.) You can turn them in to whatever you want. Just because things have always been done a certain way, that doesn’t mean you have to continue. If what you truly want is quiet time with your family, or a chance to do something different, you can make it happen.
Here are seven (7) suggestions to help you reframe the holidays:
- Think carefully about the rest of December, and ask yourself what it is you most want the holidays to look like. When you have a vision, make a plan to make it happen.
- Give yourself permission to change. Know that you deserve to celebrate in the fashion you choose, and that you can work with your family in a way that honors what you are looking for and balances with their own wishes. Know you may not get everything you desire, and that is okay.
- If you are frustrated by the commercialism of the holidays, think about it in other terms. Perhaps you have already cut back on gift giving. Begin to think of other ways to give that don’t involve spending money. Gifts of time, volunteering, and personalized attention can be even more meaningful to others than a package wrapped in shiny paper.
- Focus your attention on those you care about most. Instead of attending large events, find ways to connect with the people closest to you in small, intimate settings. Engage others in conversations about what the holidays mean to them, and start a dialogue on how to make them more meaningful. You may be surprised to find that others feel the same way you do.
- Make peace with past holidays. Don’t hold on to old resentments. They are bound to undermine any efforts to enjoy yourself if you do. Acknowledge there have been times you have been hurt or disappointed during the holidays, and release that negative energy to the universe. Forgive others you have felt hurt by, and know they did the best they could. Try to believe that people don’t consciously set out to hurt others. Actions and behavior are a reflection of their own issues and emotional capacity, and are really not about you at all.
- Remember there are 364 other days in the year. One day does not make or break you. If you have reasonable expectations for yourself, and refrain from placing expectations on others, the only person you need to depend upon for a good day is yourself. Expecting others to make you feel better, cheer you up, or to give what they are incapable of giving is a sure way to end up feeling hurt. The only person you can set expectations for is yourself.
- Focus on meaning. Try to connect with the themes of the holiday rather than the unrealistic expectations of consumerism and perfect harmony. Did the holidays once hold more of a spiritual significance for you? If so, is there a way to get some of that back? Do you want to connect more with nature instead of spending the day watching television? Make a plan and do it. Focus on connecting with the people and things that bring you joy.
Holidays can be difficult for lots of reasons. While it is important to know that you can reframe your thoughts about them and create the things you really want, it can be tricky when you are part of a family. There is a difference between creating your own vision for the holidays and being selfish. Some of your goals may be easy to implement, but some may impact others and may need some negotiating. There may be things you will need to compromise on, and that is satisfactory. When you are part of a family, or any group, no single person gets what they want all of the time. Choose what is most important to you and try your best to make it happen. For other things, work toward meeting in the middle, and for still others that aren’t quite as important, but are important to other people, let it go for now. Change begins with a few small steps, and will grow over time with effort and perseverance. Accept where you are and enjoy yourself. You deserve it.