The holiday season is a time of great stress and anxiety for most people. We are forced to plod through heavy traffic, wade through crowded stores with too few sales clerks, incur unwanted financial burdens, and attend family gatherings fraught with unresolved issues and conflicts amongst family members.
Thus, it comes as no surprise when we repeatedly hear the proverbial, “I just dread the holidays.”
Let Go of Control and Enjoy the Holidays
I have a solution for much of your holiday anxiety: Let Go of Control! If you do, I’m pretty sure you will enjoy the holidays much more—or at least dread them much less! If you are wondering how control impacts enjoyment of the holidays, let me explain. Holiday pressures exacerbate our tendency to rush, to press, to resist, to direct, to expect, and to criticize—all tension-creating control devices.
Wouldn’t you enjoy yourself much more if you were able to take it easy and feel everything would work out okay?
You can do this—by letting go of control. Here’s how.
Holiday Decontrol Tips
Here are a few effective ways of letting go of control during the holiday season.
1. Lower or Remove Your Expectations. Try not to expect too much of others, especially family. As I’ve cautioned in prior posts, high expectations often lead to disappointment and resentment. It is much better—for you and others—to have little or no expectations of how people will be or act. Don’t assume or anticipate conflict or discord with others based on past history and experiences. For example, if you are concerned about sitting at the same table with your wayward brother or sister at a Christmas dinner, don’t make any assumptions—good or bad—about what might happen; instead, trust that you will be able to disengage (i.e., let go) from any problem that might result, and enjoy other parts of the reunion.
2. Be Patient. Allow holiday “currents” to progress and evolve naturally, rather than pressing for resolutions. Life is always in a constant state of motion—shifting, and ebbing and flowing—even more so during the holiday rush. Focus on being calm and grounded, and wait for the currents to flow your way. Then engage them intuitively, rather than forcefully. To better do this, plan some alone time for yourself each day, whether to meditate, journal, take a short walk, or do something fun.
3. Keep Things Simple. Don’t complicate things by over planning and over thinking. Don’t fret about all the “what ifs” and “what could happens.” Worrying only plants the seeds for those things to happen! Instead, trust that things will work out as they were intended. By keeping things simple you will save considerable time and energy, and reduce stress and tension for yourself and those around you.
4. Address and process your “Personal Truths.” Addressing our unwanted feelings is a critical component of reducing the compulsion to control. I devote an entire chapter to this, entitled Embracing Your Personal Truths, in my forthcoming book, Losing Control, Finding Serenity. In simple terms, this process involves identifying and processing those unwanted feelings that compel you to control, such as fear, anger, anxiety, insecurity and the like. For example, if you are feeling extremely anxious because of all the things you feel you need (or want) to do today, rather than forging “past” your anxiety, take a few minutes to get in touch with it. Start by trying to feel your anxiety internally, even physically. Take some slow, deep breaths and really get in tune in to it. “Embrace” it, if you will. Though it may sound counterintuitive, recognizing your anxiety will lessen it considerably. Next, ask yourself how important is it that you do everything today. What terrible thing might happen if you don’t? Most things aren’t as important as we imagine them to be.
If you try these “decontrol” tools I am confident you will experience greater enjoyment of the holiday season. You might even start looking forward to them!
In closing, I would like to wish you a very peaceful holiday season. And remember,
Let It Go!