I went to a lovely pre-Christmas event on Wednesday at Nunmere Hall and I was delighted to be one of the speakers.
I also hosted one of the tables and share this space with some great people. I thought I would share with you what I said in my talk, and share my thoughts on the pressure that Christmas can create. It is good to pause and think about yourself.
Some people will be really looking forward to Christmas and all the magic it can bring. However, there be many others who are feeling a little anxious, overwhelmed and stretched over the thought of Christmas. This time of year we can be such a huge mixture of emotions. It’s good to pause and think about what is actually happening.
I have 6 points.
C – Christmas
It is fair to say that Christmas can feel like the most magical time. You might be thinking minced pies, buying gorgeous gifts, cooking, entertaining, Christmas trees and decorations, spending quality time together, joy, good movies and mulled wine.
But it can also be full of pressure. This might be pressure balancing work and getting ready for Christmas. There might feel pressure within your family, money can often be an issue and the pressure of buying presents, we can be struggling with not having enough time and sometimes relationships can be more pressured at this time of the year. When we lift the lid of the magic of Christmas, often we can see a pressure building like a pressure cooker in all sorts of areas of life. There can be so many mixed feelings.
It is good to step off the treadmill every now and again and notice what our feelings are around Christmas. And in fact, we might even question whether we can get drawn into things or do things which might be draining, or we might regret, or we might not have made the most of this occasion. Does this resonate for you?
H – Hassle
I’m saying the word hassle but it’s really like a scale isn’t it. At one end of the scale, it is busy bustle with all the joyful things, and at the other end of the scale we can have utter overwhelm and even a feeling of dread. And there is everything in the between and this we could call hassle.
I wonder where you are on that scale. I wonder whether you have ever thought about it as a scale. Because when we know where we are on this scale then if things are going brilliantly and we are on the high end of the scale, we can live in the moment, we can be fully present, we can create those memories and can make the most of a season which of course is centred around connection, family, and fun.
If we pause and look where we are on that scale, then this can give us feedback, some information and that can lead to some potential to make changes and shift us along that scale. So sometimes we might have total overwhelm, knowing that we are at the end of that scale and realising this gives us a potential to make a difference.
By pausing, we can put our perspective glasses on and see things differently. Running out of cellotape while you are wrapping a present might be irritating on Christmas eve but in the grand scene it is just hassle, isn’t it? So, what kind of hassle do you have going on as you head for Christmas? It is so useful to pause and think about where you are on the scale of hassle – total bliss and devastation at the other end? Where are you?
O – Obligations
This is where I think we all need to pay serious attention. We need to shine a light on these obligations. In there, we have the ‘shoulds’, the ‘oughts’, the ‘musts’. It might be that you have always done Christmas or certain parts and feel obliged. There might be an expectation that you will be the host for Christmas. You might believe that no one else will do things.
We are often putting ourselves under a great deal of pressure and you might think that no one else will do it. I wonder if anyone else feels obliged to do things, particularly at Christmas time when you don’t want to do or don’t feel it is fair. And yet you go along with it.
Do you know what you feel obligated to do? And how do you feel about that. Is that a duty that is gratefully accepted or is it resentful. We don’t have to go into a season blind, on a treadmill, thinking ‘is this it, or ‘here we go again’. We actually need to pay attention and notice. Stepping back is actually at the route of making the best of things and not accept things that you don’t want to do. If you take the time, you can do something about it.
I – Internal
I don’t know if you have noticed but everything we have talked about so far is external – How we move into Christmas period, where you are on the hassle and heart break scale, whether we are happily obligated or resentful. All of that is starting with things that are around us and happen to us and then how we perceive what is around us.
The internal work is where the magic is. If you link to the obligations with your internal chit chat, you can start to see your own self-pressure. Based on your thoughts and actions, you can then feel stretched and stressed.
You might be going along with things but really you are unhappy and feel like you have no options or say. You might have thoughts of wanting everything to be perfect, have a fear of what others will think about you, the challenge of comparisonitis and my big one that I here all the time is agreeing to something then feeling resentful. I call these dirty yes. Does anyone else do dirty yes’s? So if you take a look at your inner thoughts, things that you have made up or are assuming, then we can work towards getting off the treadmill.
C – Courage
Now to be able to do this you are likely to need to speak up, stick to your boundaries and be courageous to make a change. Having the courage to speak your truth and balance commitments with your own choices can be a new skill. Either working on accepting the situation or making a change. Otherwise, you are likely to feel angry and resentment which eats your energy and your joy.
You often need to think about your own capacity, time, energy and work out what is truly right for you. I am a big fan of people finding the courage to speak up and express their needs and want, the outcome of this is much happier people.
E – Expectations
Exploring where expectations come from. Are they yours and linked to your own internal pressure or obligations or are other putting on you. Learning to set boundaries is key. Finding the right words and being clear to set expectations. Or you might need to check in with your own expectations and whether these are realistic.
These 6 points all spell out ‘Choice’. At the end of the day each of us have a choice.
I give you the gift of choice. The key to those things is to recognise you have choice. I am here to say with my expertise with my professional hat on but also my personal experience that we do have a choice even in those times when you don’t think we have a choice, there is always choice within that.
My challenge to you is to think about the gift of choice We all have the potential to make great choices for the run up to Christmas, for Christmas and for the new year 2024.
What are you going to pay attention to this Christmas?