Welcome to Day 4 of the 12 Days of Christmas
Today’s topic: How to Manage Expectations
The Holidays are filled with expectations, family obligations, and upholding traditions. It’s a magical time of year, but it can also be a time of year where you find yourself reacting in ways that seem out of character. Because this is the time of year to spend with family, this is also the time of year where you may be triggered by past stories. For instance, if you have felt criticized by a certain family member or you always try to get everyone’s approval, you may get angry when you perceive critical comments or people are withholding approval.
You may also feel frustrated by other people’s behavior. If someone is thoughtless, careless, or unappreciative of your efforts, do you wonder why you bothered to try to create holiday magic?
The solution for judgment is love. When you feel angry and are judging, forgive, and invite love in. I like to imagine a big love bubble. I can’t think of love and anger at the same time. As soon as I turn to love, the anger dissolves.
Where does the pressure come from anyway? Why do we have such high expectations for the Holidays? Part of the expectations is created by the amazing holiday movies, tv shows, and commercials that create, perhaps, an unrealistic portrait of Holidays. Another piece of the puzzle is our childhood memories. We have created a Christmas story. Your story might be one filled with lavish gifts and now you are trying to re-create this. Your story might be one where there weren’t presents or a family member was always drunk, or people fought and you might try to compensate by trying to create a perfect Christmas.
“Perception is but a mirror, not a fact. What I look on is my state of mind reflected outward.” A Course in MiraclesClick to tweet
When your plans allow for the normal human factor, such as someone will be unhappy at some moment during the holidays, some plans will need to change ( weather, travel, work obligations, etc), and you may forget something, you will likely have a lovely holiday. You have done your due diligence to the best of your ability at the time and taken care of your part, and then you can let go.
Other people’s happiness and actions are not your responsibility. In our family, one of our children experienced a painful breakup the day before Christmas one year. This was unforeseen and very difficult, but we didn’t cancel Christmas and we didn’t expect a broken-hearted person to act like nothing happened.
Here are some tips for managing expectations:
- Communicate clearly.
- Ask questions. What are family members plans? What do they want to do?
- Let people know what time things start.
- If you are traveling to someone’s home, let them know when you will arrive.
- Be clear about presents (are you doing a gift exchange, etc).
- Ask for help.
- If you are not the host, offer sincere help.
- When things go wrong, take a pause. Take a deep breath in and out. Think before you speak.
- Think simple. Keep asking yourself, how can I make this simple? Can you make something ahead of time? Can you order it from somewhere? Can you bake fewer cookies? etc.
- Laugh more. When you laugh instead of getting uptight, you release tension.
- Remember, it’s not your job to change anyone’s political views. It’s not your responsibility to fix someone’s drinking or eating problem. Ask, yourself, is this my business?
- If you are the recipient of unwanted advice, you can practice the pause and let go of a defensive response.
- This is the big one: be flexible. Don’t get stubborn and insist on only one way.
If you liked this, you will love my article on managing emotions during difficult challenges
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What is the 12 Days of Christmas Event?
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Sheri Kaye Hoff, Ph.D.
Coach, Trainer, and Author, Dr. Sheri Kaye Hoff, Ph.D. is a Business and Life Coach known for inspiring massive action and a catalyst for personal and business growth, joy, and profits in a way that is fun, relaxing, and fulfilling, Sheri inspires people to the do work they love and make more money. Sheri helps business owners and professionals to relax into success. She uses both spiritual and practical techniques to obliterate blocks and create dramatic change. She is a business, leadership, happiness, and inner game expert. She has overcome nearly dying, and the loss of her brother at an early age. She has made it her life mission to discover the keys to happiness and success and then share them with her clients and community.