Happy Holidays everyone!
For most people, this is the favorite season of all. Families and communities get together in their festive spirit to celebrate life. It is a time of reuniting in joy, gratitude, love and compassion.
For some of us though, holiday season may also mean stress and anxiety.
You will agree that there is no re-action without a cause. Every time, someone or something pushes your buttons, you react with intense emotions. This emotional and physical reaction causes you lose lot of energy. As a result, you feel exhausted and depleted.
If you want to manage your stress and have fun this holiday season, you need to stop this energy drainage.
Let’s look at how you can do that.
First, bring your attention inward and identify what people and situations make you feel.
For example, do they make you feel..
- Exhausted, because you’re trying to meet their expectations?
- Annoyed, because your spouse or parents or friends make irritating comments or have attitudes towards you?
- Frustrated, because they don’t meet your expectations and you realize you have to do everything yourself – again this year?
- Poor, because you don’t think you have enough money to spend on gifts to impress your loved ones?
- Lonely, because you don’t seem to connect with people whatever party you go to?
Once you identify how people and situations make you feel, then, stay with your emotions until you understand what ignites your intense reactions.
In order to do that, challenge yourself by asking “what if” you responded to the situation or people differently. What would happen? The answer will help you find out about your fears, which are the real reason why you stress.
To demonstrate this technique, let’s continue with our examples:
- What kind of things do you do to meet others’ expectations? What if you didn’t do any of those things that were expected of you? Are you afraid of being judged, or embarrassed, or not being recognized?
- What kind of comments do they make? What kind of attitude? What if you told them how their remarks or attitude makes you feel and you don’t appreciate that? Are you afraid of not being loved, or not being accepted, or being rejected?
- What are your expectations of others? What if you didn’t do everything yourself this year and nobody else took initiative? Are you afraid of things getting out of control, being chaotic, or not perfect enough?
- Are you comparing yourself to others when it comes to giving gifts? What if your gifts were not that expensive or impressive? Are you afraid of being seen as a failure, or having poor taste?
- What makes you think that you’re not connected to people? What if you strike up a conversation and let it flow as it may? Are you afraid of being rejected, or not being understood or not being interesting enough?
Once you dig in and find out more about your fears, you will realize that they come from your past. You may have developed these fears during your upbringing or from a dramatic past event or through people’s prior judgments and comments.
Whatever the cause may be, now you know where your intense emotions come from. You understand the real reason why you stress.
Without falling into the trap of blaming others, turn your attention inward and show some self-compassion. Compassionately accept your emotional reactions as symptoms of your underlying fears.
See if you could respond to situations and people differently this year. When you do, you will realize that your fears were unfounded. When you go beyond your fears, you will feel that everybody has nothing but love and appreciation for who you are.
This holiday season, understand why you react the way you do. Then, face your underlying fears and respond to situations and people differently.
If you do, you will find love and compassion you never felt before, and when you do, share them joyfully with everyone around you.