The Holidays are upon us! As beautiful as this season is with decorations, holiday songs, and gift giving, it also comes with a lot of stress , anxiety, apprehension and agitation. Getting the expensive item on sale, standing in lines, and traffic, traffic, traffic. It’s little wonder that our anger can flash at the slightest inconvenience.
But my friend Jenna marches to a different, calmer beat. Her chosen path is,
Acceptance—the instant holiday stress remover.
Jenna knows acceptance is the best holiday gift she can give herself. Needing to buy some last minute holiday gifts at her local mall, she joined a block-long line of cars creeping along toward the parking entrance.
Once entering, she had to maneuver like a matador to avoid cars aggressively vying for parking spaces as if they were winning lottery tickets.
Walking into her favorite department store, she had to navigate through hordes of frenzied shoppers and clothes strewn about as if there had been a teenage slumber party the night before.
After finally finding the things she was looking for, Jenna then had to wait fifteen minutes before it was her turn at the cashier counter.
Upon hearing her shopping experience, I remarked that she must have been totally stressed out by the experience. To my surprise, Jenna responded, “No, not really.”
Knowing that my emotional equilibrium would be off kilter if I had endured the same obstacles, I asked her how she managed to remain so calm in the midst of such madness.
Without missing a beat, Jenna replied, “If I’m entering the madness, I have to accept that’s all part of it.”
True words, indeed. The underlying reality is that the holidays are truly maddening times for many people. Heavy traffic, rude people, too few sales clerks, family dinners with estranged siblings, and so on. Jenna was wise enough to recognize that she was powerless over changing any of that and thus wasn’t overwhelmed by it all.
She also maintained realistic expectations. Our expectations increase during the holidays. We often expect our children, mates, and friends to act like angels; to be on time, thoughtful, help out, read our minds, and such. These kinds of expectations inevitably lead to conflict and resentment by us—and them–and this only increases our stress.
Unfortunately, it’s just not trying situations that create stress during the holidays. We also have to cope with “people stressors” who are more invasive—and pervasive–during the holidays—you know, control freaks, dysfunctional family members, and other “crazy- makers.”
Take heed, though, because
Acceptance insulates us from people stressors.
When we are able to accept people stressors as they are, their actions and words cause us considerably less stress and anxiety. With acceptance, we are able to disengage and emotionally remove ourselves from their fear based world, and not take matters too personally—and sometimes even “forgive” their trespasses, for they likely do not know what they do! (Acceptance does not mean we are excusing or condoning their behavior. See my post “Three Misconceptions About Acceptance”)
The simple truth is that with acceptance, little really remains to stress over.
A heavy burden is lifted from our shoulders. We no longer have to worry or obsess about things (or at least, not nearly as much!) during the holidays. We can breathe easier and focus on the realistic choices we have, such as doing something nice for ourselves; being more mindful; planning our outings better; keeping things simple; and, maintaining an attitude of gratitude for all the good things in our lives.
As we become more aware of these choices, we no longer feel so “stuck,” and our stress lessens considerably.
That’s why it is also important to be aware of when you are powerless over changing or controlling things or people. This is not easy this time of the year, to be sure, because we can get so wrapped up in things.
If you begin to feel the “dis-ease” that comes from overreaching or overextending, take a moment and ask yourself, “Do I really have the power to change this?” Or, “Is it really that important?” Or, “Should I let it go for now?” With such query pauses, the answers usually appear quickly, enabling you to accept “what is.”
So what is there to lose by practicing acceptance during the holidays? The short answer is nothing! The long answer is a lot of stress!
Peaceful Holidays to You and Yours!!
In the meantime,
Let It Go—and Accept “What Is!”
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Wonderful article, Danny, and so timely. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Sally. Hope you and John are enjoying the holidays!
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