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I love the holidays. Every year I say I am going to take time to really enjoy them and before I know it they are gone. This year I am making a commitment to myself to stop, pause and really enjoy this time of year. As part of that commitment throughout this season, I am going to be writing specifically about Living Happier in the Holidays: my struggles, thoughts, and tips for the holidays. I would love for this to be a conversation so please share in the comments or via email any questions, struggles, thoughts or tips you might have.
This is my last post in the Living Happier Through the Holidays series. I sincerely hope that it has helped you live happier. I will be taking the rest of the year off to enjoy the Holidays with my family and friends.
The fascinating concept about this series is that it can apply to any part of your life, not just the holidays. As you move through life and are confronted with a challenging time or situation it is important to be intentional, have a plan, know how you want to feel, make small changes and set healthy boundaries. Regardless of whether you had time to implement these concepts around the holidays you can start at any time in implementing them in your life.
I have discussed setting boundaries many times on my blog (here, here, and here). Around the holidays boundaries can get even trickier. For most of us holidays means family which means tradition which can translate to guilt and shame if we try to change anything. So along with the challenge of setting a boundary we also have to deal with the inevitable, ‘but it has always been that way’ or ‘last year we did…” or “you ALWAYS bring the…”
During this time of year, it is easy to get caught up in the language of ALWAYS and NEVER and TRADITION. Therefore, it is even more important that you know how you want your holidays to feel and you have implemented small changes to make that a reality. Now what if those small changes mean you have to make someone uncomfortable, leave someone out or do something different? What if you have to set a boundary in order to have make the holidays different this year?
Here are few ideas to keep in mind.
Boundaries are a healthy normal part of relationships. Most of us weren’t taught how to create healthy boundaries. It is OK to say no. It is OK to take care of yourself and your immediate family first. It is OK to change plans, and do things differently. It is NOT OK to maliciously hurt someone. It is NOT OK to not clearly communicate a boundary. It is NOT OK to use passive aggressive or manipulative tactics to get your way.
Setting boundaries can be uncomfortable. As I said above, the holidays also can bring a healthy dose of shame and guilt so be aware that when you make changes in the tradition, people can get uncomfortable. Expect that uncomfortable feeling and as long as you are clearly expressing yourself and not engaging in any malicious behaviors all will be well. Change is hard and change takes time.
It gets easier. Yes, telling your friend you can’t do the annual shopping extravaganza will be hard this year. But next year it will be so much easier. AND knowing you don’t have to deal with the crowds, spend too much money and hear your friend spend the entire time complaining-will be worth it.
Setting loving boundaries allows you to celebrate and enjoy the holidays. Your needs are not less important and over time with the help of small changes and loving boundaries the holidays can become a joyous festive time.
I would love to hear from you in the comments: What small changes can you make? Where are you stuck between wanting to feel a certain way and unable to make the necessary changes?
Make sure to check out the previous posts in this series