Here’s the three steps to take toward not caring.
This is what some of you told me stresses you out about the holidays:
• Gift expectations
• The obligation to spend time with people and many who you’d rather not
• So much time preparing for others, so little time enjoying
• Over scheduling and frenzied rush
• Falling off healthy routines
• Wanting to change traditions but are stuck
• Pressure to get together with “friends”
• Family gatherings and conflicts
A lot of these have to do with other people and their expectations of what you should be doing or how you should be acting at the holidays.
The expectation to be social, party, get together with family, keep up traditions, buy gifts, pack in as much “fun” in a possible.
You may feel if you don’t do what is expected of you, Everybody will be upset with you. Everybody will think you are a bad mom or bad daughter or bad wife. Everybody will think you are a Scrooge. Everybody will think you are selfish.
But who are these Everybody’s? Here’s how you can find out and address the stress and anxiety it may be causing you.
1.) Think of something you’d like to change this holiday season but haven’t yet because you think Everybody will be upset with you. Write down the names that come to you. Keep in mind, Everybody could be one person, a group of people like your family, or perhaps a group of people you don’t know well like the “PTA moms” or the “ladies who run the church.”
2.) Look at each Everybody on your list. You may discover the grand “Everybody” list you built up in your mind is only a few people, not the 7.2 billion people in the world – EVERYBODY. Our brain thinks it is every single person in the world ganging up on us. Our brain thinks it’s the end of the world as we know it! However, in reality our Everybody is most likely only a few people.
Determine if you truly care what each one of the Everybody’s on the list thinks about the changes you want to make. You may discover you do care or you may notice you actually don’t care what they think.
3.) If you find you do care about what one of your Everybody’s truly think, you can take a further look at why you care and how you want to address the situation. If you don’t care, well, you’ve just narrowed down your Everybody list and there’s one less thing to worry about – You’re clear to move ahead and make a change!
To help you understand further, here’s an example of a situation I ran into this season and how I handled by Everybody’s:
I send out a lot of holiday cards. I’ve done it since I can remember. Probably back to high school. It’s what I thought a “good person” does or should do at the holidays. I used to write out the cards with personal notes, something relevant to our relationship. I used to have time to do this. However, I did it because I thought I had to in order to keep up relationships. So as the years went by and I could easily get printed cards from Shutterfly, I’d write a little note, sign it and send it. In recent years, it’s more like putting a card in an envelope with a sticker address label and sticker return address. Like a well oiled machine. There’s not too much of a personal touch. Also, most of the people on my list are Facebook friends so I have the added pressure of finding a photo for my card that no one has seen. This is too hard to do so I’ve given up on the special picture. So now I’m basically spending $3 per person to send a picture they’ve already seen. Not to mention the additional cost and stress if I have a photographer take family photos. Yes, cards can be a nice touch and it tells them I’m thinking of them, but I’ve come to feel quite mechanical about it all. To me, what I’ve been doing is so impersonal so why bother.
Here’s where my Everybody comes in…
Everybody will think I’m not their friend
Everybody will think I don’t like them
Everybody will think I don’t want to stay in touch
Everybody will think I’m mad at them or trying to make some sort of dramatic passive statement about our relationship
Everybody will think I’m a grinch
Everybody will wonder what the hell I’m doing not sending cards! How dare I !
So I started to think “ok, who is this everybody I speak of!” And here’s what I came up with for my Everybody’s in this situation:
1.) Two old work colleagues, one who I never hear from and one who I think just sends me a card because I send them one.
2.) A friend or two of the family who we never see any more
3.) All 150 people on my list – like they are a collective boy band standing together with each other saying and their arms crossed saying “oh my, why didn’t we all get cards from Deborah” – yes, it’s silly.
When I looked at these Everybody’s and subsequently decided this year, I really don’t care what my Everybody’s are saying, I made a decision to take new steps for this year’s cards.
1.) I like sending holiday cards, but I want to try and have a more personal touch. So the number of cards I send out needs to be manageable – like 40, not 150.
2.) I don’t want to drop off the face of the earth so on my personal Facebook page I’m going to let people know what I’m doing and post a holiday message to them. (yes, impersonal but I’m going to try it and see how I like it)
3.) I’m giving myself permission to make the change this year, see how it feels and do things differently next year. I’m also not going to beat myself up if I get a card from someone I don’t send one to.
Radical? Yes, I live on the edge. But I’m going to try it out this year, see how it feels and adjust how I want to – not how I think Everybody might want me to.
What’s your challenge?
What would you like to change?
Who are your Everybody’s?
Once you know who your Everybody’s are, you can then determine the action steps you want to take. Instead of spinning and brewing about what you wish could happen or how so-and-so is preventing you from making it happen. Figuring out your Everybody’s can help you break it down and look at your challenge in a more manageable way at the holidays or any time.
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