Many people find holidays and special occasions to be a stressful time for their relationships. It is like opening “Fibber McGee’s Closet” and all the old, maybe unspoken issues seem to tumble out.
It doesn’t have to be stressful if you recognize the warning signs of stress, and act pre-emptively!
Follow these holiday survival tips to help you through the holidays...Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, family gatherings, etc.
The biggest challenge that can cause stress is different expectations. For example,if your mate’s idea of a perfect holiday is to sleep late, take it easy and then watch football and eat, and you think the perfect holiday is to do a lot of work ahead, have a lot of people over, and have a big party, you can see how this can lead to stress for both of you.
The trick is to discuss your expectations, and your partner’s, ahead of time to understand what their expectations and needs are for the upcoming holiday or birthday. That way you can avoid making the assumption that you are expecting the same approach. That is a holiday survival tip that can make all the difference for you.
Holiday Survival Tip-Beat The Comparison Trap:
Another huge stressor that is fairly easy to tackle is the comparison trap. This is the idea that someone else or the couple next door is doing it better or having a better time.
The grass is always greener in someone else’s yard. The food looks better on someone else’s plate. Someone’s kid is always achieving more. It’s a fact. So if you are looking for something or somebody to compare yourself to, you’ll find it. There is always someone who is doing better, and someone who is doing worse. But the price on your state of mind of these constant comparisons is extremely high. As long as you are willing to indulge this ”comparison thinking” you will find yourself at the top of some, the middle, and most importantly, the bottom of one of your lists.
It is just too easy to fall into the trap of comparisons. It is easy to imagine that the neighbors or someone else is having a better, or a happier time. You imagine that “they have more friends, more money, more passion, more time, more opportunities, more freedom, more joy. We usually get jealous, and assume others are having more of whatever we feel is missing in our own lives. So if anything, you can use your comparisons as an opportunity to deal with the fact that you are longing for something that you don’t feel you are getting. This way you can begin to discuss with your partner what you feel is missing,
Besides, when it comes to comparisons, you might be right or you might be wrong. Maybe they do and maybe they don’t have what you think you see. Appearances can be deceiving. But the point is, why compare? Any time you compare yourself or your experience to someone else’s you are bound to come up with a score of “less of” whatever it is you have your eye on. The result: you feel “less than” in every area of your life!
This can add a lot of ill will toward your partner. It raises your resentment level, and all of a sudden you start really paying attention to all the little things you don’t like. This is just one reason why indulging on comparison is so dangerous.
We see these patterns a lot during holiday seasons, and that's why we have developed these holiday survival tips. Some people think they have to have “the perfect holiday,” whatever that is, Valentine’s Day, Labor Day weekends, Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, dangerous times for comparison freaks who find perfect opportunities to experience “death by comparison.” This creates an immediate sense of stress and can lead to a bad case of what I call PHS – Pre-Holiday Syndrome. Maybe you feel responsible for making sure that your partner or family has the perfect holiday. Then of course it is your fault if everything isn’t perfect. That’s a lot of pressure. It creates a certain gift-buying frenzy. Then comes the guilt that you didn’t spend enough, or just as bad, guilt that you overspent.
“Every year I dream about having the perfect big Christmas party,” Stephanie told me in a counseling session. “But I never do it. I always have a million excuses. The house isn’t ready. It’s too expensive. Everybody already has other plans…”
If you have a set of perfect standards in your mind, or a mental list of unrealistic comparisons, it can keep you frozen and unable to find yourself taking the first or any step toward something that you want. Comparisons lead to the “tyranny of perfection” where everything has to be perfect before you will take action.
Stephanie finally realized that the fact that the roof was crumbling was not a good reason to not have a party. Her husband really wanted to throw a big bash, and she realized their friends were not coming over to judge her roof, even though to her eyes it was blaring. When she finally realized she was comparing her parties to the ones her (stay-at-home) mother used to throw, she realized she was comparing herself to unrealistic standards.
Her mother would cook and clean for days, and everything was always perfect. At least that’s how Stephanie remembered it. When she decided to stop comparing herself to her mother’s high standards, she was able to throw a pot-luck party that was one of the best they had ever had! The people who came really appreciated having a wonderful, friendly, casual and happy place to go for the holidays.
So if you have been a compare-aholic, you might want to look and see if this habit is holding you back from pursuing your dreams. Here are five holiday survival tips to remind yourself to let go and stay out of the comparison trap:
1) Make a decision not to give thought or energy to any comparisons, positive or negative. When you find yourself doing this, just stop. Say mentally or out loud “I’m not beating myself up with comparisons anymore!”
2) Let go of the idea that you (or anything) have to be perfect. There is no perfection, so why compare yourself to something that doesn’t exist? If anything discipline your mind to find what is “right” about what is happening right now!
3) Allow yourself to take baby-steps towards your goals. Rome wasn’t built in a day. View your goals as “lighthouses” you move towards, as something that keeps you on course, rather than fixed “finish-lines” you have to achieve.
4) Give up your Guilt Routine! Give up all “shoulds” and replace them with reasonable standards that you choose yourself, rather than those you have inherited from others.
5) Relax and only do what feels “right” for you to do.
Applying these holiday survival tips will help you and your partner enjoy upcoming holidays. They will free up the energy that has been dissipated or stalled because you have had comparison standards that didn’t serve you. Once you realize that you can let go of the struggle for “absolute perfection,” you can enjoy the “perfect imperfectness” of what is. And that is a good feeling!
Feeling good is what takes all the stress out of your relationship and your holiday plans. Talk about your mutual expectations, and do what you can to make plans that conform to those ideals, but most importantly, learn to let go a little, and let the fun back in during the holidays.
We hope you find these holiday survival tips helpful in your relationship. Let us know. Contact us using the form below.
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