The Holiday season is upon us. For some of us, it is a joyous time full of love and peace. The rest of us go into it fully prepared for battle. Some even become anxious or depressed in the weeks leading up to them. So, why are the holidays so stressful for us?
Aside from the many stressors present during the holidays, there is one that we all must confront at one point or another. Family.
We dread the inevitable argument between our uncles. You know the ones who can’t leave politics alone for one day? We detest having to explain and relive a major life change, such as a divorce, to Aunt Hilda. The sisters arguing over whose kid broke Grandma’s figurine. The questions about when you will have kids/get married/finish school. The guilt trips, the looks of disapproval, the placating nods, the judgmental brow raising, it just is almost not worth it.
Obviously, we are not going to be able to hide under our blankets and avoid the holidays. Avoiding a problem has never solved anything. So, how do we release the stress and anxiety we may feel? That’s a good question, but we need to look at why it gives us so much anxiety in the first place.
We dread these interactions because we are afraid of what other people will say. Even more so, we are afraid of what those we love and deeply respect will think of us. We don’t want to take a side in the inevitable arguments that will take place. We don’t want anyone mad at us. We feel this way for one simple reason.
We place a ton of value in the perceptions of others. At the end of the day, does it matter if Aunt Hilda is gonna look down her nose at your divorce? Sure, she may make snippy comments and get a couple of jabs in, but why does it affect you so much? Have you truly placed so much value on her opinion and so little on your own? Do you believe that Aunt Hilda’s perception is really your reality?
We become angry with our loved ones because they are not behaving in the way we would like for them to behave, not because they are toxic. Think about that. You want Aunt Hilda to change her mind and accept your decision. You want your Uncles to not discuss politics. You want someone to do something, act a certain way, behave a certain way and, they are not. You want your family to accept you and tell you that your choices are okay. The hard truth is, they may not ever behave the way you want them to and they may not ever accept your choices.
That is okay.
Let me say that again, that is okay. In my book The Success Factor: The Link Between Self Belief and Success, I highlight this very important lesson:
“……success is achieved when an individual’s self-belief is no longer determined by the opinions of others but rather by the truth that they are part of a Consciousness far greater than themselves and within them lays the power to overcome all obstacles and create their own reality….
…..We must not allow someone else’s perception to determine our reality. From the moment we are born, we take in information from all around us. Sometimes, the input we receive is negative; “what is wrong with you”, “why can’t you be more like so and so”, “you’re doing that wrong”, “you are fat”, “you need this”, etc. We begin to believe these messages and accept them as truth. When that happens, someone else’s perception becomes our reality and we have failed before we even got started.”
At this point, before you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, you need to ask yourself some very important questions and answer them truthfully.
- Does your family accepting your decisions change who you are at your core?
- Do you love your family?
- Can you accept their opinions as their perceptions and not your reality?
- Can you love them for who they are, and accept yourself for who you are?
If you are still having some anxiety over family, I have included here a link to a YouTube recording of my self-hypnosis recording “Remove Negative Labels (with STRESS BUSTER)“. Take about 45 minutes before your holiday gathering, when you are not operating a moving vehicle or while you are doing anything that requires your full attention, and listen with headphones in a quiet place.
Let go of the perceptions others have and release that stress before your get together. If you know someone who is also struggling with Holiday Anxiety, share this recording with them!
As always, let me know how it worked for you! I wish you all a very happy and stress-free Thanksgiving!
Tiffany Ruiz, C.Ht.