I was just reminded that for so many the holidays are a time of disappointment. Why? Simply, our own expectations. How we think things should be! As Tony Robbins says, “We ‘should’ all over ourselves!”
We create pictures in our minds of the perfect Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving and Christmas. We set the bar without realizing that we can move it! We can redefine not only our expectations of what our holidays are going to look like but our everyday as well.
We often tell ourselves how we are going to feel or how we are supposed to feel thereby setting the stage for that emotion to show up. We also have the tendency to entangle our expectations of others in our picture perfect ideas of how things should be.
Some examples that come to mind would be things such as:
- If my son who is in the military cannot make it in for the holidays, I am going to be devastated. In this scenario, you just gave control of your happiness over to something/someone beyond your control. You have effectively set the expectations and if they are not met as you outlined, you will spend YOUR entire holiday “crushed.” Our vocabulary and mindset truly determine our quality of life. A better way of looking at this would be I am looking forward to the holidays and list all of the reasons that are in YOUR control. “I plan to read or take a nice long walk along the water.” “I am making my favorite dessert.” Frame your day in a way that cannot disappoint!
- Another example would be, “if so and so does not buy me XYZ for my birthday, I am going to be so mad!” Okay, the obvious here is if you want it that bad, DO NOT rely on someone else to buy it for you.
In my morning journal time, I list things that can make my day great. I never include things that are dependent on the actions of others because doing so gives them control over whether or not my day is great. Make sense?
It is also important not to allow comments that other people make regarding their expectations of how they want their Thanksgiving to look to set us up in for the comparison trap. Just because your next door neighbor is having 30 people over and you are spending the day alone does not mean your day has to suck! Honestly, I would take that kind of peace any day. That is exactly how you reframe your vision. You change your perception of the situation. An empty table does not mean that your heart cannot be full of love and joy!
Lastly, you may be going along just fine with your solo Thanksgiving plans – it will be you and your cat, you plan to wear your pajamas all day with big fluffy non-matching socks while you watch Christmas movies and you may or may not even shower with your hair looking like a troll. Your Thanksgiving meal is a Banquet frozen TV Dinner and you are okay with that. Actually, you are looking forward to it until well meaning Betty at work says, “Oh, you are going to be alone on Thanksgiving! That is so sad.” You let her words get into your brain and suddenly you feel like a big loser when, up until then, you had your day gloriously planned out.
By choosing to set your expectations for your days on things that you can control namely being your vocabulary, your perception, your vision, and your mindset, you can choose happy every single day!
Until Next Time,