Friends, I spent some time putting together a holiday guide this week (you can get it here), and was searching for quotes that capture the magic of the holiday season. I was disturbed not to find any! Instead I found strategies to deal with the stress and pressure of the season. Ew. I’m not into holiday stress this year; I want to celebrate with joy, peace, and delight. I’m inviting you to join me in creating the type of holiday season you want, beginning this week by creating an intention.
In my holiday guide, I’ve listed out themes for each upcoming week, and will be blogging in more depth about each one. The themes I’ve chosen are fairly traditional, following the themes of Thanksgiving, the four weeks of Advent, and the New Year. I’ve listed them below, but I invite you to change this up in any way that works for you.
Week #1 (11/24): Gratitude
Week #2 (12/1): Hope
Week #3 (12/8): Love
Week #4 (12/15): Joy
Week #5 (12/22): Peace
Week #6 (12/29): Celebration
Dreaming Your Ideal Holiday
This week, I’d like to focus on creating an intention for the rest of the year. To do this, I’ve got some questions for us to play with:
-How do you want to feel this holiday season?
-How do you want to feel at the end of the season – physically, financially, and emotionally?
-What special traditions do you want to honor this year?
-Which relationships, charities, causes, or values do you most want to honor this year?
Let yourself answer without judgment. As I was contemplating these questions, I found that my answers triggered my own internal critic. I want to feel connected, grounded, peaceful and nurtured this year. I have a vision of loving self-care, meaningful connection, and a spiritual practice. Maybe with a Christmas tree, because I like them. But without hoards of gifts, holiday travel, white elephant exchanges, excessive baking, or obligatory gatherings. Ack!!! Suddenly that brings up some self-judgment.
(Gently!) Smack Your Internal Rule Keeper
If you’re having an experience like mine, you might be finding that your genuine answers to these questions don’t coincide with the various “shoulds” related to holiday celebrations. These internal rules can come from culture or family – or, worse, both. The minute I created my vision, I got internal feedback that sounds like this (a representative sample only!):
-You should be more focused on giving this year.
-This holiday plan is selfish – who chooses self-care as a priority during a giving season?
-I don’t care what your financial situation is, you can’t not give gifts. You can’t give handmade gifts, people will be disappointed.
-You can’t focus on having energy and being grounded this season. It’s all about connection and magic, not boring things like cooking healthy food. You should be baking. It’s the one chance in the year you get to bake guilt free.
-If you don’t join in the white elephant exchanges, people will be disappointed.
Whoa! I think I now understand why the holidays can be so hard for us – our social selves have a whole series of seasonal rules to add on to the standard ones. And that’s okay – as long as we’re conscious of them. Once I’m aware of these rules, I can easily convince my social self that my ideas about baking and white elephant gift exchanges may not be the absolute truth. It’s when they are lurking, unconscious, that they can trip us up. Some other social self ideas that are pretty common for this season:
-Everyone should enjoy seeing their families during the holidays.
-Everyone should give gifts (or at least send cards) during the holidays.
-Everyone should be happy during the holidays.
You get the idea. These things aren’t actually true, and that’s okay. Whenever you start hyperventilating, thinking that you’re not doing something ‘right’ during this time of year, check for unconscious social self rules. If you can’t get past them yourself, call a grounded friend who can tell you the rule is absurd and you don’t need to follow it.
Crafting Your Intention
Once you’re social self has been soothed with some truth checking, it’s time to craft your intention. Make it as juicy as you like. This is mine for the season:
This holiday season, I intend to recognize and honor the divinity within me and those around me. I am committed to celebrating with loving self-care, daily spiritual practice, and authentic connection.
What’s your intention? Post a comment below and share it with us.