Fall is my favorite time in Georgia. The weather is cooler and the leaves are starting their brilliant transformation. As we head into the holiday season, it is a good time to reflect on our expectations. Just like the varied colors that surround us, we have many different kinds of expectations. Carrying those expectations with us through the holidays and into the new year can place added stress on ourselves, family and those around us. Take a moment to see what thoughts, assumptions and beliefs you are holding. Are they realistic? Do you think they will be met? What affect are they having on you and how you interact with the world around you?
Expectations of self – It’s okay if you cannot attend every event, provide the perfect gift for every person, or have the best decorations in the neighborhood. You also don’t have to take on everything by yourself. When we try to do everything for everyone else, we are denying people the opportunity to help us or be involved. Be realistic about what you can accomplish. And most importantly, forgive yourself if it isn’t perfect.
Expectations of others – Hopefully, you have wonderful friends and family that bring you joy over the holidays. But just because it is your holiday party, doesn’t mean “that one uncle” who always creates a scene is going to be on his best behavior. Your friends may not do all the things you want them to. And people may say things or act in a way that you find frustrating. Ask yourself, are my expectations realistic? Will it help to talk to the person about what I would like? What happens if my expectations aren’t met? You then have choices about how much time you spend with that person and what emotional investment you make.
Expectations of our lifestyle – One of the things I have seen over and over is people going into debt as they try to create the picture perfect holiday, with the latest gadgets, expensive presents, and fancy decorations. Think back to the most meaningful times, and they often don’t involve spending a lot of money. Be realistic with your family about your budget, and be creative about how you celebrate. Our finances are one of the top stressors over the holidays. Find ways to budget so that you can enjoy the holiday season but not be still paying for it in March.
As the month progresses, remember to pause occasionally and give yourself permission to let go of expectations or assumptions of how things “should be”. Above all, find joy in the people and world around you!
Jessica Dugan dedicated to helping others improve resiliency and self-care. For more information about individual coaching, support groups or workshops, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.