Two days before Christmas, I’m reminded that it’s not the happiest time of year for many people. Between finding (and paying for) the “perfect” gifts and bracing yourself for family dynamics (let’s face it, no one knows how to push your buttons like family members)…it may be easy to look at the happy-happy-joy-joy social media posts of others and begin to “compare and despair.” (It’s an MBI coaching term for comparing your insides to someone else’s outsides.)
Does any of this sound familiar to you? I am spending too much on presents and don’t have enough money in the bank to cover this. I don’t have enough time to get it all done. My mother-in-law is going to make her usual passive aggressive comments at Christmas dinner. Everyone else has a special someone to spend the holiday with and I’m still single.
If they do, try to recognize this is a typical lizard brain “lack and attack” stress response that can create fight (WTF!?!), flight (run far-far away!) or freeze (overwhelmed! ack!) behavior. It’s easy to get into a downward spiral of these thoughts if you believe them. Here are some suggestions to get out of that funk:
- Notice and observe your thoughts. Try to distinguish them between facts (circumstances) and notice how those thoughts are making you feel (emotionally and in your body). What is your corresponding behavior because of those thoughts and emotions?
- Ask yourself: “Is that thought true? Can I absolutely know – without a shadow of a doubt – that that thought is indeed true?”
- Notice whether these thoughts are based on a movie in your mind of reliving the past and/or a potential future that may or may not unfold. The reality is, neither the past nor the future exists. The only place they’re alive is in your mind. You are feeding their power – nothing else. The past is done and the future is God’s business. Visualizing that pain in your mind is causing harm to yourself.
- Ask yourself: “In this moment, right now (not 10 minutes from now or 10 days from now), am I safe? Do I have all that I need in this moment?” (If you’re naked and living on the streets – I doubt you’re reading this blog – but try to find a shelter.)
- Try to find an alternate truth…a thought that would be the opposite. Simply explore another way of perceiving the facts. (You don’t have to believe it, just feel around and find some space for new thoughts.)
If you’re still feeling bah-humbug, then you may want to try some self-care.
You have a choice in how you spend your time and with whom. If you don’t want to buy people extravagant presents or spend time with people that make you want to crawl out of your skin – don’t! Instead, maybe spend your Christmas doing whatever makes your heart sing. Take a bubble bath, dance out your frustration to your favorite music, buy yourself that gift you’re hoping to receive, meditate, sign up for that class or activity you’ve been wanting to try, and finally read that book that has been sitting on your nightstand collecting dust. You can’t control other people or circumstances, but you can choose to love and treat yourself with TLC.
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
You hold the power to turn your Christmas from funk-filled to fabulous!
*The above suggested steps are adapted from a mixture of the work of Martha Beck and Byron Katie’s “The Work” (of which the latter is a more in-depth process than presented above, and can be found here).