It's On Me: Navigating The Holidays

You’re sitting around after Christmas dinner, there are way more cheesy potatoes sitting like a rock in your stomach than your “Christmas nutrition plan” ever intended (and all God’s people said “amen”) and you’re updating Aunt Sally on your latest career move or blind date. You can see ALL over her face just how she feels about your ability to make good choices. Even if the words that come out of her mouth are “Oh that’s nice, dear”, what she’s really thinking is “What the crap is wrong with you?” And you’re sure of it.

Or are you?

That’s the tricky thing about people pleasing, not only do you want to do and say everything exactly right, but you also have to try to read their minds in the midst of it all. It’s like running a Christmas Marathon (which sounds like my worst nightmare). It’s EXHAUSTING. And all the sweating you do will deplete you of your carbs, leading you right back to those freaking cheesy potatoes that you know won’t digest fully until next Tuesday.

We all know the holiday season is chock full of warm fuzzy feelings for a lot of people. But even if you look forward to house guests and holiday parties, it can still be tricky to navigate all of the relationships that tend to collide in November and December.

I love throwing parties. I love going to parties. I love being around people with delicious food and drinks to share. But even in the midst of all of that, I still struggle a lot when I surround myself with so many people that I love for days or weeks on end.

My two biggest weaknesses during the holiday season are my tendencies to 1) people please and 2) try to control every situation (mind-reading included).

People pleasing is an exhausting, maddening business on any ordinary day. But people pleasing during the holidays is the WORST.

Think about it: you are surrounded by people you love who you may not get to see or speak with that often. Conversations are basically boiled-down cliff notes on your life. And chances are, you actually care what they think of you.

If you add being a control freak to my people pleasing tendencies, you have yourself a pretty scary holiday season. If I’m hosting a party, I want everything to be perfect. If I have house guests, I want everyone to get along. And at the end of it all, I would like for my house to be spotless, even though it never is, even without 10-20 additional humans in it.

Can you relate to ANY of this?

I am both so excited and absolutely anxious for Christmas festivities to begin in a few days.

I start to think about all of the things that could go wrong with ten kids under one roof.

I think about how someone could possibly judge or offend me.

I obsess over the details of my travel plans and how my husband or children may mess something up.

But you know what? I am basically ruining my holiday before it even happens. Navigating the holiday season with family and friends can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be terrible.

The line between tricky and terrible?

I can act like it’s everyone else’s fault that I’m worried, but really, it’s on me.

It’s on me to CALM DOWN and make some choices.

These are the choices I am making this week and next so that I can enjoy my family and friends instead of becoming a stress-ball that no one wants to be around.

1. I bought paper plates and plasticware because I hate doing dishes for 5 people, let alone 20.

2. I will say out loud (and probably write down) all of the people and activities I am excited for.

3. I will say out loud (and probably write down) the events as if they have already happened and were a blast.

4. I will make a plan with my husband for what we (mostly I) can handle in terms of hosting (see #1 about not doing dishes).

5. I will not forget to take my antidepressants because they make a BIG difference for my anxiety and general ability to enjoy life.

6. I will remind myself that my husband is on my team and he is not the person to take the blame every time I get stressed out about the TINIEST inconvenience.

Maybe you can’t relate at all to any of this and I just sound like a crazy lady. That’s okay. I didn’t write it for you. I wrote it for the people who also have SUCH a hard time enjoying the holidays because their brains are going a million miles a minute obsessing about things that NO ONE ELSE CARES ABOUT.

Also – for my fellow people pleasers:

1. They are not thinking about you as much as you think they are thinking about you (thank you Jenna Kutcher)

2. Someone else’s opinion about you is none of your business (thank you Rachel Hollis)

What choices can you make this holiday season to keep the tricky from going terribly, and heck, even surprise yourself and have a little fun?