Prepare Yourself Emotionally for the Holidays Now
In an ideal world, each of us could expect to celebrate the upcoming family holidays in the finest traditions of our cultures, with abundant food, family gathered together and everyone feeling joy in their hearts.
We don't live in an ideal world. We live in a world of hustle and bustle, family and friends spread far and wide, and in a challenging, ever-changing time. On top of that, each of us has our individual ideas about what the "perfect" holiday would be like.
Right now, before the holiday season gets into full swing, is the time, first to be aware of your own expectations, then to adjust them as needed to be more reasonable, more realistic. Our past experiences and hopes, the media hype and the expectations others may have of us can set us up for disappointment. Unrealistic expectations, no matter the source, can lead us missing the joy of the reality of the day.
Cognitive dissonance is the mental health term for the stress we feel when we expect one thing and experience something else. It doesn't occur only at the holidays, but at any time we have one image in our mind and the reality of the situation doesn't live up to that image.
For example, I would enjoy having all my adult children, their significant others and all the grandchildren together at my home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I could spend a lot of physical and emotional energy trying to make that happen, but I won't because it's an unrealistic expectation on my part. I'll still have twinges of wishful thinking that maybe one day it may happen, but I won't have the acute disappointment on those particular holidays because I won't allow myself to work toward that goal.
Learning to pare your expectations back, for the holidays or for any other situation, won't happen overnight. It won't happen at all if you don't make a conscious effort to do so. Thinking patterns are hard to change, like any habit is, but after a time it will become second nature to you. I think you'll find yourself feeling less stressful as a result and better able to enjoy each moment as it comes.
Image Credit » https://pixabay.com/en/home-paradise-refugee-hope-949942/ by geralt