A friend called me the other day and said, “It’s the most wonderful
time of the year,” with a slight hint of sarcasm. Everywhere we
go, there is holiday music playing, colorful lights, and cookies.
So why don’t we all feel merry and bright?
I think the answer in a nut-shell is because many of us experience
the holidays as incongruent with our actual experience. We are
being bombarded with several messages during the holiday season:
* Spend money to show people you care
* It’s time to be with your family (even if they drive you
* Spend time with your friends celebrating
* Eat a bunch of food that’s not really good for you
* Add multiple things to your calendar like office parties,
shopping, cooking, wrapping, cleaning, etc.
* Feel happy!
So What Happens When……
* You don’t have money to spend.
* You dread being with your family.
* You don’t have many friends, and the ones you do have are
spending time with their families, not you
* You don’t want to eat the unhealthy food. Or, you want to,
but know you will regret it later.
* You don’t feel like doing all the things on your calendar-
you’d rather stay home
* You feel depressed, anxious, or sad
Picking up the stick:
Most of us start judging and convincing ourselves that something is
wrong with ourselves because we are not in the holiday spirit. Our
minds start whacking us and say things like, “You should…”
* Spend money (why don’t you make more anyway?!)
* Be with your family (why can’t you just get along?!)
* Be with your friends (why don’t you have more?!)
* Have more will-power (why did you eat all those cookies?!)
* Want to go to that party (why are you so anti-social?!)
* Feel happy (what is wrong with you?!)
Use the Carrot, Not the Stick:
This holiday season, what would it be like to put down the stick
and use the carrot? This is a popular metaphor in the horse world.
Offering a horse a carrot is a much more effective motivator than
hitting him with a stick, which only incites fear. I’ve found the
same to be true with humans! We literally create all kinds of fear
and anxiety because of the cruel way we treat ourselves. This
year, instead of beating yourself up, why not use a gentler
approach? In the true spirit of the season, why not be giving,
compassionate, and kind to yourself? One way to do this is to be
Being Congruent- What’s that?
It simply means that you tell yourself that you matter by listening
to what is true for you. For example, if you know you have a
tendency to overspend and then regret it later, don’t overspend.
Show people you care through your actions and give the present of a
kind deed. Or, get the amount of cash you want to spend and leave the
credit card at home. If your family drives you crazy, limit your
time with them. If you don’t want to attend your office holiday
party, don’t go. If there is a friend you’d really like to see,
let him/her know it’s important to you. Set aside a little time for
yourself this holiday season, and do something you’ve been wanting
to do. Most importantly, be kind and gentle with yourself. Give
yourself the gift of the carrot.
Wishing you inner peace this holiday season.