9 Things To Let Go Of This Holiday Season
The holiday season is upon us and as we get nearer, it’s important to figure out ways to deal with tough situations. This time of year can be positive or negative; it’s all about what you choose to hold on to and what you choose to let go. Through my own recovery and growth, I’ve learned that the following things are not only important to let go of during the holidays, but also year-round. Here are my top 9 most important things to let go of this holiday season.
I feel like this is probably the most important one of all and something that can quickly ruin the holidays without you even realizing what caused it. We all have expectations — how people should behave, what people should say, how events will play out. The truth is that we really have no control over any of that.
For the first few years of holidays for Neil and I, I always managed to end up upset because I assumed that Christmas would be the way it had been when I was a child. I would have mystery presents show up overnight, I would be filled with the same joy and excitement, and it would literally be the most magical day of the year. When reality didn’t live up to my expectations, I’d get upset and we would typically end up fighting, which would further ruin my hopes for the holiday.
When I realized that recreating the Christmas of my youth no longer made sense, the fighting stopped. I realized that we could create our own version of Christmas that led to excitement and happiness, but it would have to be different from what I had expected. Now we have created our own traditions that I look forward to every year.
This is an important lesson for life during any stage. In any situation, the only thing you’re able to control is yourself. You can’t control your partner, your family, or your pets (like when Donut ate the rest of our Thanksgiving turkey). Trying to assert control over people, places, and things that aren’t yourself is going to leave you stressed out and disappointed. It can be hard, but the more you’re able to take a step back and only be responsible for yourself, the easier the holidays will become.
This was something I struggled with for many years. MANY YEARS. In an attempt to avoid conflict at any costs, I did everything in my power to please others and maintain a neutral atmosphere. This led to a whole host of problems, including the lack of development of my own personal identity, but during the holidays it can become even more troublesome.
You can’t please everyone. EVER. You need to be ok with doing the best you can do and letting that be it. Don’t go out of your way to overschedule and overwork yourself for others because all it will do is chip away at your own sanity and peace of mind during the holiday season. Learn to set boundaries. Learn to say no. Learn to respect your own time and take a break. You will be much happier because of it.
Being passive aggressive
Holiday conversations can be tricky to navigate. Being passive aggressive will not solve the problem and it may actually lead to further conflict. If you don’t like the way someone treats or talks to you, find a way to tell them directly. This can be hard and scary if it’s not something you’re used to, but it’s important for your self-respect to be able to stand up for yourself. This way there is no guessing about what is and is not appropriate when someone interacts with you.
No one’s life is perfect. Do not feel the obligation to put that pressure on yourself or even to portray that to others. Perfection is something that many of us strive to reach, but the irony is that perfection is different for each person. There is no universal standard and for some it takes many years to realize that the journey never really has a destination. Learn to embrace yourself, your home, and your life the way it is. There’s nothing wrong with striving for progress, but know that perfection is off the table.
There have been many studies indicating that experiences often trump things when looking into a person’s satisfaction level. Just because the holidays are coming doesn’t mean that you need to go overboard with spending. It’s true that some experiences can also be expensive, but think back on past holidays – what do you remember the most? For me, I don’t remember all of the gifts I’ve received, but I do remember the way I felt on Christmas morning or during times with people I care about.
I’m a big advocate for enjoying yourself during the holiday season (and all seasons really). Guilt and shame have no place at a dinner table and make sure to enjoy those cookies and treats. There’s a difference between enjoying and overindulging, however, and you’re likely the only one to know the difference. Are you eating until well past full? Are you bingeing without being hungry? Are you drinking well past the point of being drunk or even a little buzzed? Take a look at your behaviors and realize there’s a difference between holiday enjoyment and something more. If you feel like you may have a problem, do a little research to figure out what’s going on and how you might get help.
Each one of us is an individual and our worth doesn’t come from who we are in relation to someone else. So your cousin is in med school – so what? Other family members are married and you’re not. You were recently let go from your job. None of these things are a reflection of who you are as a person. You have intrinsic worth and you will always find someone who is doing better than you in some way, shape, or form. There is no reason to hold onto that when you can be appreciating your strengths instead.
This is similar to people pleasing, but focuses more on playing the victim in a situation. Don’t offer to host during the holidays if it will leave you overworked, stressed, and complaining to everyone about how much you had to do and sacrifice. Don’t buy gifts you can’t afford and then let others know that now you’re in debt this month. Don’t offer to fly across the country and then complain how stressful it was. There’s no need to take on extra in an attempt to make others feel bad or grateful for you. It’s selfish and detrimental to both you and them.
Ultimately, the holidays are what you make of them. If a family situation stresses you out too much, opt out. Figure out your boundaries and triggers and work to find appropriate ways to deal with them. It can be tough, but the most rewarding things often are.