Now that’s I have bought myself some time using the strategy I described in my previous blog, Manage Christmas Commitments – Part 1, it’s time to set my calendar up.
First, I decide on my priority events. For myself and for many other people, it is family gatherings at this time of the year. While a family is important, doing 4 Christmases in 1 day is not my idea of quality time. While it might be symbolic to get together on this day, gratitude and warmth extend to other days of the year as well. So space out your Christmas commitments.
Decide on your top three or fewer commitments and lock them in your calendar.
For example, for me this year, it would be spending Christmas with my partner’s family in Australia, and staying up to talk on Skype with my parents and my brother’s family in Canada. I was considering of trying to stretch myself and do a portion of holidays with my family as well, but then the wise side of me kicked in and I realized that with the stress of traveling, by the time I arrive at my parent’s place, I will be completely exhausted.
This year, the decision came fairly easy for me, but each year is different and if I still feel overstretched, or if after locking down your top 3 priorities, you still have tons of events or super large family to please ask yourself these three questions to help you make a decision:
“Would you like to attend this event?”
Be very careful to ask specifically that. Sometimes I would ask my clients this questions, and they reply by saying “My aunt really wants me to come and she will be devastated if I don’t”, or they reply “I can’t say ‘No’ cause I won’t hear the end of it from my mom”. All these are very reasonable thoughts, but they don’t answer the question. I want you to ask and answer sincerely as to what you want to do. There are only two options for a response here: Yes, I do, and no, I don’t. Really listen to your gut and your body for response and then decide if you are ready to take on this Christmas commitment.
If yes, check how it fits with your schedule, shuffle things around, you might have to say ‘No’ to something else to make it work for you.
If no, ask yourself “What’s the worst that can happen if you don’t attend?”
What’s the worst? My aunt won’t speak to me for a month? My friend will be upset if I don’t come? Most of the time, we are more afraid of our discomfort rather that the fury from the other person. Maybe it’s really the feeling of guilt that you fear the most.
And follow it up with “What can I do to manage it when it happens?”.
Rember that whatever other’s person’s fury is it won’t last forever. Neither will your guilt. Remind yourself and others that this is a season of giving and forgiving. Treat your guilt for what it is, an uncomfortable feeling that will pass and remind yourself that this is the feeling that you get when you take off your martyr hat off and take the time to respect your own needs. In the spirit of respecting your needs and other’s wants, offer your friend or your aunt to connect on a different day to make up for the missed party/dinner.
I realize that things are not always easy and sometimes when we are stuck in the old relationship patterns, it’s hard to take a new step and saying ‘no’ feels impossible. At times like these, I recommend exploring external and unbias guidance from a therapist, a coach or a mentor to help you to see things from a new perspective and gain new strategies for managing your own and other’s expectations.
This concludes my bite-sized wisdom sharing for the 2017 year. I wish you all a magical and cheerful holiday season and a New Year full of sparkle. May your 2018 year be filled with insights, wisdom, energy, clarity and perseverance!
Your Global Therapist,