Holidays: Fraught or Fun?By Dr. Margaret Paul
December 16, 2017
Don't let your ego wounded self hijack your holiday!
What comes to mind when you think about the holidays?
Do you groan, feeling burdened by all you have to do? Do you dread going shopping for gifts or cleaning up after Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or other holiday celebrations?
Or, do you feel a sense of fun, delight, and joy in the celebrating and in the giving and receiving?
Which part of you is in charge of the holidays - your judgmental, ego wounded self or your spiritually connected loving adult?
Think for a moment about the little child in you - the child who may have loved the holidays. What delighted you about Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or other holiday celebrations? Most kids are really excited about receiving gifts, but many children also feel equally excited about giving gifts. Did you enjoy decorating your house?
Or, were the holidays a sad time, a time of heartbreak due to not having enough money? Or a time of loneliness due to the loss of a loved one? Were they a time of stress in your family? Was there abuse around holiday times?
Gratitude Rather Than Anxiety
Whatever the situation of the past, you have an opportunity now, as an adult, to give your own inner child the celebration he or she wants and deserves. You have an opportunity to move into gratitude for what you have rather than anxiety for all you have to do. Instead of choosing to dread or resist the holiday spirit, why not open to it, embrace it and feel the grace of it?
Let the child in you do the shopping for gifts. Let the child in you receive the delight of picking out just the right gift for a friend or loved one. Or let the child in you find some way to give, some way to share your love. Even if you are alone or without extra money to spend, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, find a way to give your caring to someone who has less than you.
The holiday spirit is about gratitude and giving. Take the opportunity to notice how fulfilling it is to joyously give rather than to resist or be angry about the work involved.
Take this opportunity to discover how full your heart feels when you choose to be grateful rather than grumpy.
If you choose to think, "Oh no, the holidays are here already. There is just too much work to do," you may feel anxious and overwhelmed. If you choose to think, "What a drag to have to go out and buy presents," you may feel resentful. If you choose to think, "Another holiday season and I am still alone," you may feel depressed. If you choose to think, "This is just a commercial holiday so businesses can make money," you may feel angry.
However, if you choose to instead think, "How can I make this fun?" you may feel excited. If you choose to think, "How can I give to others this holiday?" you may feel open hearted. If you choose to think, "I get to buy things for the people I love," you may feel grateful.
Grumpy or Happy - It's Your Choice
So who do you want to be this holiday season? You can choose to be a Grinch, close-hearted and angry about the holidays. You can choose to be tense, anxious, judgmental, depressed, fearful, withdrawn or resistant.
Or you can choose to be happy, peaceful, excited, grateful, loving, open hearted and joyous. It is all up to you. How you feel is the result of how you choose to think about the holidays.
Why not try an experiment this holiday? Refuse to engage with negative thoughts. Instead, make a list of positive thoughts and as soon as a negative thought comes up, imagine changing channels on a TV, switching to the love channel. Then notice how you feel!
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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