What Causes Holiday Stress

What Causes Holiday Stress



The holidays are supposed to​ be a​ time of​ celebration when friends and families get together to​ share food,​ fun,​ gifts,​ and love. They are supposed to​ be a​ time of​ giving,​ caring and connection when we celebrate important and meaningful events.

Why,​ then,​ are they often so stressful and what can we do to​ make them more fun and peaceful?

Changing the​ holiday season from stressful to​ peaceful depends upon one thing: INTENT. Your intent is​ whatever is​ most important to​ you​ in​ any particular moment or​ situation.

At any given moment,​ we are always in​ one of​ two intents. Put in​ simple terms,​ it​ is​ either more important to​ you​ in​ any given moment to:

1) Be loving to​ yourself and others,​ or

2) Get love and approval

Your intent determines your behavior and your feelings. Let’s take an​ example.

Peggy is​ married with two children. Peggy grew up in​ a​ family where she was trained to​ define her self- worth through other’s approval – that is,​ Peggy believes that if​ others value what she does,​ she is​ okay,​ but if​ they don’t,​ then she is​ unworthy and unlovable. Therefore,​ Peggy’s almost constant intent is​ to​ get love and approval. She does this by trying to​ do everything perfectly – the​ house has to​ be perfect,​ the​ food has to​ be perfect,​ she has to​ get everyone the​ perfect gifts. She believes that if​ everything is​ perfect,​ she can have control over how others feel about her and she will get the​ approval she believes she needs to​ feel worthy.

The problem is​ that trying to​ do everything perfectly creates a​ lot of​ stress. Whatever means we use – whether it​ be perfection,​ compliance,​ anger or​ blame - we will always be stressed when the​ intent is​ to​ have control over getting love and approval.

Because Peggy does not know how to​ define her own worth,​ she feels empty inside until she gets approval. Once she gets the​ approval,​ she feels a​ moment of​ fullness,​ which rapidly disappears and then needs to​ be filled again with more approval. Others around her feel her pull for approval,​ and may also feel stressed in​ the​ face of​ it. They may like what she does for them,​ but they may not feel loved by her giving to​ them to​ get their approval.

Sophia is​ also married with children. Sophia also grew up to​ believe that her worth was based on​ other’s approval. However,​ Sophia has done enough inner emotional and spiritual work to​ learn to​ define her own worth. Because she is​ no longer dependent upon others’ approval to​ define her worth,​ she is​ free to​ express herself in​ ways that are loving to​ herself and others. Rather than worrying about what anyone will think of​ her,​ Sophia joyfully goes about decorating,​ cooking and buying presents because it’s fun for her to​ do so. For Sophia,​ the​ holidays are an​ opportunity to​ express herself and her love for others. Because she is​ defining and expressing her own worth,​ she feels full inside. Approval may be the​ icing on​ the​ cake,​ but it​ is​ not the​ cake itself.

Because Sophia receives such joy from expressing herself and giving to​ others without needing anything in​ return to​ feel worthy,​ others feel loved by her giving. While others may be stressed if​ they are giving to​ get approval,​ Sophia herself remains peaceful and joyful.

We all have a​ choice each moment to​ decide who we want to​ be – a​ person who is​ trying to​ have control over getting love and approval,​ or​ a​ person who is​ giving love to​ ourselves and others. Who we decide to​ be determines how we feel. if​ our intent is​ to​ get love and approval,​ then we may think that others determine our feelings,​ but it​ is​ really our own intent that is​ responsible for how we end up feeling.

Why not start now,​ before the​ holidays,​ noticing your intent? Why not open now to​ giving yourself – the​ child within you​ – the​ approval he or​ she needs to​ feel worthy? if​ you​ start to​ practice today being in​ the​ intent to​ love yourself and others,​ perhaps by the​ time the​ holidays come around you​ can really have a​ good time!




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