So for those of you who read my last blog, how are you getting on with that boundary setting??
I'll be referring to that again as we get closer to the holidays but today I want to talk about something I hear every year and this year have been hearing more than normal this year: how Christmas has sneaked up, how there's so little time, how 'I'll never get everything done' and so on.
Well in this country, Christmas hasn't actually snuck up on anyone since there's been Christmas references in shops, in magazines, on the telly, on the Internet, on billboards since SEPTEMBER!!
What people are really saying is, "I haven't wanted to think about Christmas and now it's close enough to bite me in the bum I better do something about it."
And then they feel really stressed about everything they think they have to do.
If you are one of those people, what would happen if you didn't do half of what you think you have to do? What would happen if you didn't run around buying a whole lot of stuff out of a feeling of obligation? What would happen if you didn't make the perfect meal? What would happen if you didn't take care of everyone who continues to rely on you??
What exactly would happen? Let's start there. In my experience, most people imagine consequences far worse than what actually happens. Negative consequences often happen because you're so stressed that you get to breaking point and blow up or cry or sulk or be stoical (for everyone to see). In turn people react to your sulking, anger or tears.
So what would happen if not only you let yourself off the hook, but you let those around you know you were letting yourself off the hook?
So here we come back to boundaries again.
What if you let people know that this year present giving was going to be a simpler affair or perhaps no store bought presents at all?
What about giving people personal vouchers? They could cover anything from taking them to lunch in the New Year to spending a couple of hours helping them sort through their wardrobe to exploring a new gallery or park or a part of where you live that you've never been to before.
There's tons of stuff you could do that doesn't involve dashing through the snow trying to find the perfect gift.
What if you told people that this year the Christmas meal was going to be a shared activity - everybody bring a dish like old fashioned pot luck?
What if instead of you taking care of everyone and doing everything, you gave everyone a job or task that would take some of the burden off your shoulders?
That would mean you might have to lower your standards and things might not be as you would have done them. But it does mean that you have to let go of your picture of how things should be and let others contribute.
Christmas (or whatever else you might do during that time that puts added pressure on you) doesn't have to be stress-filled.
You don't have to buy into the hype or the fantasy perfect family sitting down to the perfect meal.
You could have a far more relaxed and therefore enjoyable time, if you let yourself off the hook and onto a more pragmatic view of what coming together with loved ones means.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory