Category Archives: Holidays
Are our New Year’s resolutions doomed to fail? Maybe not. Just because they failed last year, and the year before that, doesn’t mean that you can’t change the pattern and experience the success you desire.
Let’s look at the ways to avoid failure:
1. Steer clear of planning on a grandiose scale
Too big a goal can result in too quick a failure. Think smaller. Break your goal down into bite sized, measurable milestones.
2. Anticipate difficulties
Any resolution will have inherent difficulties. Anticipate ahead of time the types of situations that will cause you to lose a grip on reaching your resolution. For example, if you want to stop smoking, avoid settings like bars, where cigarettes are in abundance.
3. Avoid procrastination
Your resolution requires a change in action, behavior or thoughts. Postponing these changes will sabotage your hope for success. Watch out for the myriad of excuses to not follow through on your resolution that may arise.
4. Select changes for the right reasons
If the changes don’t accomplish hidden goals, then it will be difficult to stay the course. For example, if the goal to lose weight is for the purpose of having more suitors, the diet is likely to fail if the latter doesn’t occur.
5. Cut the self-deprivation
Set realistic goals for yourself, and establish rewards for short goals accomplished. In other words, if the end goal is the gold ring, set up some brass rings along the way. Take a few moments to give yourself a pat on the back for having accomplished said goal.
6. Be alert to subconscious expectation of failure
If, deep inside, you expect failure because of previous failed New Year’s Eve resolutions, you may be setting yourself up to fail once again.
This year, when you decide to stop smoking, lose weight, reduce expenditures, etc., approach it differently. Recognize that January 1 is just one of 364 other similar days in the year. There is nothing magical about any one day of the year. If you experience a setback, that’s all it is; a setback. Keep moving forward, enjoy the process, and all you learn about yourself along the journey towards your goals.
You’re listening to the radio and the sounds of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” pours out to you. You’re in the shopping mall and you walk by kids lining up to sit on Santa’s lap. You visit a friend, whose kitchen smells of cinnamon and sugar.
And yet, as these sights, sounds and smells remind you of the holiday traditions of years ago, you may find yourself fighting off the chronic emotional pain known as ‘holiday blues’.
Holidays often result in our getting in more in touch with our sadness and anger than at other times of the year, causing the darker, ‘blue’ mood during or prior to the holidays. This is due to a multitude of reasons.
1. Santa myth. Many of us, as adults, still carry an unconscious fantasy known as the ‘Santa Myth’. We continue to expect the day that was perfect for us in our childhood, when we still believed in Santa. As adults, we feel sad and disappointed when we do not experience the ‘perfect’ day and receive the ultimate gift, or when our holiday falls short of those depicted in Hollywood musicals.
2. Acting out unresolved conflicts. Any unresolved upset feelings with family can negatively influence our happiness over the holidays. Grudges are carried over, leading to resentments and misinterpretations.
3. Grieving a loss. Anyone who has experienced a loss, either recently or in the past, may feel especially sad leading up to, during and following the holidays. The more recent the loss, the more incomplete one’s grieving and the stronger one’s attachment to the loved one, the greater one’s sadness will be. Such losses can include a new move, divorce, loss of job, or a death in the family.
4. Unrealistic expectations of family. How quickly we forget that dad is very dogmatic and opinionated. Or that when Aunt Sue drinks too much, which is often, she isn’t funny but is rather nasty. Or that her children are completely undisciplined, bully the cousins and damage your home.
5. Parents not accepting growth and change. Parents may subconsciously strive for the holidays of years ago, and have difficulty accepting their children’s maturity and autonomy. Siblings come back into the fold and pick up unresolved conflicts, marring the family harmony.
6. Guilt at not doing enough. This can be in the form of not spending as much as you might have wished on a gift this year, or not cooking enough special food.
The key to successfully combating holiday depression is to put everything in perspective. Recognize that conflict can be healthy if the issues are brought out in the open, because they can then be addressed and dealt with. Strive to pace yourself and schedule in time for personal relaxation, exercise and sleep. If you are experiencing a loss, give yourself permission to step aside from some of the festivities if you wish, while surrounding yourself with a strong support system.
Don’t strive to have a Hallmark holiday. Instead, have a real one, with real people, real feelings, and the real desire to be together despite everyone’s imperfections.
Photo from http://www.clipartoday.com/clipart/holiday/christmas/christmas_166709.html
Holiday time is family time. But the holidays can be challenging when the family includes one or two sets of step children and two sets of parents. With proper planning, flexibility and a lot of love, the holidays can be a success for all.
1. Discuss financial concerns. Often times the men are supporting two families, and money is tighter as a result. Adults need to come up with a workable budget. Gifts can be homemade, coupons for a parent and child to spend together engaged in an activity the child likes, all making gift-giving affordable.
2. Children react to change with behavioral changes. In a new family, children may not want to listen to their parent’s expectations of how they should respond to the new parent. Be patient. Children may not have a solid relationship with the stepparent. Respect their unique way of relating to others.
3. Recognize that traditions have already been established in the children’s previous families. You can’t necessarily start over fresh and discard the past. It is best to plan ahead, discuss options, determine which traditions to have or throw out, and negotiate agreement on how to celebrate the holiday.
4. If children are spending time with both sets of parents over the holidays then be careful to not set up a competitive relationship. Give the children time to adjust to the different rules and environment after visiting the other parent. After all, having two separate holiday celebrations can be over stimulating, stressful, and tiring for the children.
5. Parents of children who are with their other parent over Christmas may feel depressed. These dark feelings can be combated by establishing new traditions, planning activities with one’s spouse that could not be done with children around, or getting together with friends/colleagues.
6. If the blended family consists of ‘his’, ‘hers’, and ‘ours’ children, be vigilant about treating all equally. Children are aware of favoritism in gift giving, and can end up resenting both the parents and the perceived favorite child, negatively impacting on family relationships.
As with all plans, the needs of the children should be foremost in the holiday decision making process. I know of one woman who epitomizes this by inviting all the children, the ex’s, as well as the in-laws and out-laws to celebrate part of Christmas at her home each year. They don’t all come, and everything doesn’t always go idyllically. But over the years, the adults are learning to put aside their resentments and provide lifelong happy memories for their children.
Eileen Lenson, author, is available for life and business coaching sessions. For further information, call 949-244-5100.
Thanksgiving holds memories of previous holiday traditions, elaborate meals, and being with people for whom we care deeply. This year will be different for many, because a loved one will not be sitting at the table. It could be that our loved one is serving in the military, a student attending college across the country, or a family member who recently died.
Rather than dreading the upcoming holiday, it is important to realize there are six things you can do to make this Thanksgiving easier, even pleasurable.
1. Write a letter. Find some time for yourself, the day prior to Thanksgiving, and write a never-to-be-mailed letter to the missing person. Putting your feelings and thoughts on paper releases the pent up emotions. You may find yourself sad and even tearful during the writing process, but having that private time to connect with your feelings will be cathartic, and in turn bring some comfort the following day.
2. New traditions. If the person’s absence leaves a hole so gaping it would be impossible to salvage a traditional holiday dinner, initiate new traditions. You need not feel obligated to repeat everything from previous years. Maybe this year you want to cook a ham instead of turkey. Or have a Thanksgiving bonfire dinner at the beach. The options are endless. The goal is the same: to come together with people you care about, and who care about you.
3. Expand the guest list. Recognize that you are not alone in feeling incomplete this year. Look around to determine if there are others you care about who have nowhere to go on Thanksgiving. It could be colleagues from work who have no local family, or military personnel who are temporarily stationed near your home. Not only is sharing with others a kind thing to do, but altruism helps lessen our sadness.
4. Acknowledge the absent person. Have one ‘go round’ at the dinner table, whereby each person shares a special memory or experience they are thankful they had with the absent person.
5. Incorporate the absent person into your festivities. Actively doing something is helpful. If you have lost your mother, use one of her recipes. If the absent person is geographically apart, schedule a time to Skype him, so everyone can chat. If your loved one is serving overseas, consider taking a holiday photo (silly or serious) and emailing it.
6. Don’t worry about being perfect – You may find yourself distracted, sad, or even withdrawn at times during your dinner. Give yourself permission to experience these feelings but guard yourself against entering a downward spiral of sadness. Focusing on the other guests, and talking about their interests and activities will protect you from becoming too isolated.