I’m not a big fan of the holiday season. Since I don’t have a large family, there’s no holiday reunion for me, and since I’m self employed, it’s not a special break from work. And the commercial aspects of the holidays have always made me especially uncomfortable. So, when November and December roll around, I try to ignore the holidays as best as I can.
You may feel different. You might feel a sense of euphoria knowing that there’s a reason to shop, you might enjoy the decorations and festivities, and the food. And you might look forward to spending time off work, with your close friends and loved ones. If that’s the case, the holidays were made for you. I’m glad you’re happy. Enjoy!
But for myself, and for many others, the holidays can be a trap, a time of year that lends itself to stress, depression, irritation, and a general feeling of wishing it would all be over as soon as possible. But the good news about that is that if you know about a trap, you can step around it.
So, here are a few holiday traps, and how to step around.
1. Intensity brought on by gift giving expectations. Everyone knows that the holidays are a time to give and receive gifts. But why is that? It’s not about religion, because the holy books don’t say anything about going to the mall or waiting in line at the post office. So if you find that you’re running hither and yon to buy presents because you’re supposed to, this might be a good year to step back.
One way to do that is with a simple note. “Dear Harriet, I’m sending this note to share my love with you. This year I’ve opted out of gift giving, and instead am making a donation to charity in your name. I wish you peace.” Adding a few lines about how much Harriet means to you would make it still better.
Harriet will probably understand and hopefully appreciate the gesture, but of course your kids are another story. I wouldn’t tell you not to give presents to your small children, because, well because I’m not stupid. But I’m also not smart enough to know what else to say about that one right now, so I’ll move on.
2. Intensity brought on by extra traffic and crowded stores. Maybe you’re not out frantically trying to get your shopping done, but it might seem like everyone else is. Despite the increasing trend to internet shopping, I’m still seeing a noticeable increase in traffic this time of year, and I also feel a kind of frenetic energy out there. Lines are longer at checkout counters. And god help you if you have to wait on the phone for customer service this time of year. My solution for this problem: Expect delays, take deep breaths, think peaceful thoughts. If you’re stuck in traffic, you can either spend that time in your head or in your heart. I’d suggest using the time to drop into your heart, breath, and tune in. It’s nice in there.
3. Relatives. Reconnecting for the holidays often means stepping back in time. You may have done a great deal of inner work, and be much more emotionally mature and sophisticated than you were at 5, 10, and 17. When you get around your parents and sibs, all of that tends to fly out the window, as your old relationships trigger your childhood patterns.
Best solution for this sticky situation? First, lower your expectations and don’t be hard on yourself, if you find yourself regressing. It’s part of being human, so cut yourself and everyone else some slack if you can.
And if possible, find ways to put breaks into the contact with your family and friends – some alone time so you can reconnect inside with who you are today. Take with you your favorite music – your current favorite music, not the old stuff – your favorite books, guided meditation programs and so on. That way you can keep tapping back into the present day you, and avoid getting sucked too far back into the past.
And 4, one of my pet peeves: Predictable and boring media broadcasts. Turn on the TV or radio, or social media feed, and you’re going to hear the same songs you’ve heard for years, see the same kinds of stories, and be exposed to the same types of ads. I don’t quite know how to describe the effect this banality has on me personally, but I can tell you it’s not uplifting. My solution for this is to tune it out and ignore it all as much as possible, and cultivate a rich inner life of my own.
In fact, my solution to a lot of what’s going on in the world today is to tune it out and ignore it all as much as possible, and cultivate a rich inner life. I’m not saying we should all put our head in the sand and hope for the best. We each need to listen inside and do whatever we feel called to do to make the world a better place. But the area we each have the most leverage on, is within ourselves. We have the most choice about how we prioritize our energy, what we focus on, how we respond to the outside world, on the inside of us.
In order to do that, we have to take time to break from the outside world. I’m talking about building in time on a daily basis to get quiet, listen inside, find out how you’re feeling, and get soothed and uplifted in there. You can do it with music, meditation, reading inspiring books, or just sitting and looking at your cat. I think a dog is better, but I’m a dog person. The point is, you’ve got to take some time for you. You are worth the time. If it makes you more peaceful, more happy, nicer to be around, you’re helping to bring peace to the world, and joy to mankind. We appreciate that.
Guided meditation is one of the easiest ways I know to tune in and become peaceful. But it can go much further. Find the world’s highest quality guided imagery programs on deep relaxation, healing, personal growth, spiritual connection and more, all at The Healing Waterfall dot com. A couple of my favorites are Heart Meditations, and Gateway to Peace. Visit The Healing Waterfall dot com to hear samples, and download your favorites. Thanks for listening!