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Giving Without Giving In: How to Stay True to You This Holiday Season

“Compassion for others begins with kindness to ourselves.”

-Pema Chödrön

Ah, the holiday season is upon us at last. Sleigh bells ring, the scent of gingerbread fills the air, and your to-do list is longer than a Proust novel. Ho ho … NO. Pass the mulled wine.

We all want to give our loved ones a magical holiday season filled with comfort, joy, and perfectly-wrapped presents. So how come all that giving leaves us feeling more drained than a spiked office party punchbowl?

The not-so-festive truth is that this most wonderful time of the year can feel a lot like living in a giant pine-scented pressure cooker. We get pulled in a million directions trying to meet the demands of our kids/neighbors/in-laws/the Hallmark Channel until we find ourselves fantasizing about drowning in a pool of eggnog as we silently fume while baking and decorating 7,500 sugar cookies for a bunch of people we barely know. In moments like these, it’s easy to feel frustration and resentment toward all the pressure and those who would exert it upon us. This is when it is most important to remember that nobody and nothing can make you feel any sort of way without your permission. And now is the perfect time to stop granting it! ’Tis the season for giving, but ’tis NOT the season for giving away all your power.

When you put everyone else’s interests ahead of your own to the point that your own happiness and/or wellbeing is sacrificed, giving stops feeling good and starts feeling more like getting run over by a reindeer. It’s up to you to decide where the line is and stand firm to make sure you don’t get pushed across it. Maybe this year you don’t max out your credit cards buying lavish gifts for your extended family’s extended family. Maybe that elf never makes it onto the shelf. Maybe you and your nearest and dearest flee to an undisclosed tropical location and stay there until January. Let your mother-in-law serve up all the withering side-eye she wants when you bring out those store-bought dinner rolls - that’s on her! The point is to focus your time, energy and money on the things that truly bring joy to you and your loved ones.

Consciously reclaiming control over your actions and feelings will allow you to enjoy the holidays on your own terms. As yuletide power struggles melt away, your best and jolliest self will shine through. Now that is a priceless gift for your family and friends. At the end of the (absurdly short) day, you might even find that the person applying most of that pesky pressure was you. Fa la la la freedom!

So get yourself an artificial tree, order pizza for dinner, and put away that aspirational-sized party dress. After all, everyone in your family deserves to have a joyful holiday season … including you.

Ready to live your most wonderful life? Start here:

  1. Prioritize. Choose 3-5 traditions or activities that you find meaningful and enjoyable and schedule them. No canceling!

  2. Start cutting. Choose a few things that you dread doing every year and let them go. Martha Beck has some good suggestions if you’re not sure where to begin.

  3. Make an appointment with yourself. And keep it! If your holiday wish is to have 72 hours alone with your snowman onesie and three pounds of peppermint bark, book it now before someone else fills that time for you.

  4. Stay on the nice list. Stand up for yourself, but don’t be grinchy about it. And be respectful of everyone else’s right to do the same.

Now go ahead and check “settle in for a long winter’s nap” off that to-do list. Feels good, doesn’t it?

PS - Give yourself the gift of a 1-hour coaching strategy session. Click here to book (first time clients only).

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