holidays

The Value of the Season!

What do you Value for the Holidays!

We all have different values and when it comes to the holidays we all value different things! When we live out of alignment with our values it causes us stress. With this in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to reduce the amount of stress over the holidays by helping you with your holiday values. When you understand what you value most over the holidays you can make choices that align with those values and have a more enjoyable holiday! Many of us throw the word value around and really don’t understand how important our values actually are to us. We may say “I value family”, but then when it comes to spending time with our families, we put it on the bottom of the priority list – behind work, chores, and other “have tos”. When we do this, we usually feel a sense of shame or guilt for not spending time with our families.  We are living out of alignment with our values and, for that, we experience stress! This holiday season, why not make it easier on yourself and figure out what your values are? Then do your best to live within those values, honour yourself! Ask Yourself How to determine your holiday values is simple. Take a few minutes to reflect on the past few holidays and ask yourself: What brings me the most joy over the holidays? When am I the happiest during the holiday? If I had to give up something what could I absolutely not give up? What does my dream holiday season look like? Take the time to really feel into the questions, allow your imagination to go wild. Write down a few things that really stick out to you. You will probably notice that some common themes start to emerge. Whether the answers revolve around such things as having family present or having some quiet downtime, to seeking adventure, or maybe it’s even solitude…the possibilities are endless. Whatever the answer may be, really tune into yourself. And most importantly don’t judge yourself for your answers!   Once you have a few common themes, take a few minutes to evaluate if this is a true value for you. For example, the value of peace is arising for you and when you check in with yourself, this doesn’t feel like something you would value. Ask yourself: Is this something that I really want or is it something that I believe that I need? Is this something that really matters to me or is it something that others say I need? Does this feel like a priority to me or does it feel like an obligation? Take this time to really check in with yourself. Does this feel authentic to you? Yes or No If yes, then you have your list of values for the holidays.  If not, then you have identified the things that are most likely causing you stress. You are doing these things out of obligation or out of a belief that you ‘need’ to be doing them. This sense of obligation has overridden your true values and is causing you stress. If this is the case, you need to take the time to re-evaluate what it is that you love about the holidays, use your imagination to identify your dream holiday season. What is it that you are doing? Who is there? What does it look like? What does it feel like? If you can answer these questions and come up with your dream holiday season you will be able to identify your values. The following questions will help you to narrow in on your values: Is it that you are surrounded by family or out at social events? Are you following traditions or are you creating new memories? Is it in a place that you know and love and feel comfortable or is it an exciting new place? Make it Happen Once you have that picture clear in your mind, you can identify what is most important for you about the holidays. Now all you need to do is make the decision to make it happen! How do you make it happen? Well, that requires you to stay true to you! Set boundaries say ‘no’ to things that are not aligning with your values and most importantly be grateful and enjoy taking part in the things you enjoy! Wishing you a holiday season that is all you have dreamed of that aligns you with your highest values.

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The Spirit of the Season

I have been working with people for a long time and, for most of my career, I have worked with people who were living in poverty. I started to notice very early that, despite budgeting with them and setting limits on spending for the holidays, my clients would go overboard and purchase things that were way out of their limits buying gifts for family and friends. It wasn’t long until I realized that there was a lot more behind purchasing gifts than just the gifts themselves. For the most part, these clients were motivated not just by the Christmas spirit, but they had a deeper drive pushing them. This pattern of behaviour is not limited to my previous clients. I see this type of behaviour in all people from all walks of life. I have even noticed it in myself! When our spirit of the season is not about the feelings of the season and rather is motivated by some underlying energy, it can take our holidays from something fun and enjoyable to stressful, chaotic and even self-loathing. There are three motivating factors that I have noticed in myself and others that can wreak havoc on your holidays. Any of these sound familiar? Guilt I think this one can be especially true for parents. Guilt is evident when we Exhaustedly scouring stores for hours Fight with shoppers because we NEED that item Go overboard and have a million presents under the tree. Or by putting ourselves in debt to make sure you have everything on the list. In these cases, the energy behind the action is not just wanting a good Christmas, there is something more It feels more like a ‘need’, like you have to, or the holiday will be ruined. I think the guilt comes from personal perceptions of short fallings as a parent, wife, friend etc. Like my clients, they felt guilty about their kids living in poverty, so they compensated by overspending. For others, I think that the driving force is guilt around not being a ‘good enough’ parent, friend, or partner. They perceive that they have fallen short in some area such as too much work, too little family time, too strict, too preoccupied, generally not being a good enough parent, friend, or partner. This guilt fuels the insanity that is Christmas shopping for many of us. We are motivated not by the spirit of giving or the joy of the season, but rather feeling like we ‘need to’ compensate because we don’t measure up in other ways. Perfection Another driving force that I have observed is the need to make the holiday ‘perfect’. Some people NEED the holidays to be perfect, for whatever reason, and they won’t settle for anything less. The results are the same they may put themselves in debt, drive themselves crazy trying to find that perfect gift, run themselves ragged trying to make everything perfect. The thing is, the harder we try to make things perfect, the more we notice that it’s not perfect! Therefore we can either surrender or keep pushing and driving ourselves nuts. I have observed this perfectionism playing out at family dinners. People spend hours to set the table so it looks just right, spending the whole day prepping and cooking, fixing and adjusting, then collapse at the end of the night from exhaustion. Meanwhile, they missed out on the joy and fun of the day! If we are in this mindset, then I hate to tell you, but there is no such thing as perfect and all the energy you use to make it perfect could be spent enjoying the holiday instead! (Sound like you? Learn more about the problems with perfectionism, here.) Compensation This one is similar to guilt and can go hand in hand, but the energy behind it is a little different. From this perspective, gift giving is viewed as a time to compensate. For example, getting the right gift so that your children, family, spouse, etc. know that you love them because throughout the year you avoid sharing your feelings and yourself with them. This can be either a perceived shortcoming or actually not giving them all of you because your energy is focused elsewhere. Whichever it is, you take Christmas as a time to share all the things you haven’t said, how much you care, how grateful you are for them, how much you love them, how important they are to you. And again, you drive yourself crazy trying to find the perfect thing to express all those locked up emotions. The pressure on getting the gift is immense because it is no longer a gift, but the way to communicate your feelings because you haven’t or feel you can’t do it throughout the year.  That is a lot of pressure on a purchase! What we are really doing The ironic thing is if the energy behind our holidays is any of the above, what we are actually doing is spending the holiday doing exactly what we are trying to avoid. Our spirit of the season is not about love, and connection rather it is guilt-ridden, chaotic and stressful! Needless to say less than enjoyable. Now what? There is nothing wrong with wanting a good holiday or to find your loved ones gifts that bring them joy, but if you are finding you are killing yourself and stressing yourself out over it, then you need to ask yourself ‘why am I doing this?’. Then really check into the motivating energy behind your actions. If it is guilt, compensation or the need for perfection, then you need to ask yourself if this is really what you want from your holiday. If it’s not, change it!

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How to Protect Yourself from Negative People

Have you ever spent time with people who live the glass is half empty lifestyle? No matter what is happening, they ALWAYS have something to complain about! I have to admit I struggle with people like that. I am definitely the glass is half full personality. Through my years working with people, I have come across this personality trait many times. It is still one of the hardest ones for me to deal with.       I find when you are around a negative person it just feels draining, it’s like they are sucking the energy right out of you. Or is that just me? With the holidays around the corner, we are all bound to run into some negative people – angry shoppers, annoyed drivers, stressed out coworkers – all of which can dampen our holiday spirits, but only if we let it! Here are a few ways to protect yourself from the negativity and help you have a happy holiday season.   It’s Not About You I think this is one of the hardest things to come to terms with. I think a lot of the time we tell ourselves that it is maybe something we did or said that put this person into a negative mood. We think if we would have been nicer, smiled more or were friendlier, then they wouldn’t act this way. This couldn’t be further from the truth! When someone is in a negative place they are choosing that. Maybe not consciously, but it is their choice and you are not responsible! You are only responsible for yourself. No matter what you did, or did not do, you can NOT make anyone feel anyway. The reverse is also true they can NOT make you feel anyway either. So, when you encounter one of these negative people, remind yourself “It is not about me”. If you do feel that you have offended someone, then apologize but don’t take the responsibility of their crappy mood, they have a choice! Not Your Responsibility to Lift their Mood I felt for years it was my job to “fix” peoples moods (there is still a little voice inside me at times). I felt it was my responsibility to make them feel better. To help them become more positive. I used to try and point out the silver lining, or try to show them the positive side. This is a skill that works well in my own life, but when someone is being negative they often find ways to rain on anything you may point out, which can be frustrating and draining. What I realize now is it is not my responsibility to “fix” other peoples’ moods. It is not even my business how they are choosing to feel. This may sound harsh but unless I am given the invitation, I try to leave people to it. This revelation has mainly come about from the fact that I realize now we all have to face our feelings and that we if we choose to, we can learn from every situation. Therefore, by me trying to fix their mood, I am robbing them of the opportunity to learn and grow. Try Compassion Despite being able to see how much pain and suffering negative people are in (knowing it is not my responsibility to “fix” them), I still want to help. Having been in a negative frame of mind from time to time, I understand that this is an uncomfortable, unpleasant place to be. Therefore, I understand, that on some level this person is suffering. I choose to use compassion. Either out loud or in my mind, I send the negative person compassion for their suffering. This is as simple as stating “May you find peace”. This simple statement can sometimes switch their mood. Even if it doesn’t, it feels good to hold a space of hope and compassion for them, even if for just a minute.     Remove Yourself from the Person   You have a choice when faced with negativity: You can choose to remove yourself from the situation, by simply excusing yourself or, if that is not possible and you are forced to be in the situation, you can choose to not allow their energy to affect you. This can be done by simply making a conscious effort to not let their energy cloud over you. Say in your mind “I choose not to let this energy affect me.” Or “I block all negativity from affecting me”. By saying this, you are setting the intention to protect yourself. It’s almost like you are putting up an energetic barrier to protect you. Set Your Boundaries If you don’t like it, set your boundaries. Tell the person the truth. If you don’t like the behaviour, tell them; if you want them to be a part of their life but don’t appreciate the negativity, tell them that too. You deserve to have boundaries and they deserve to know the truth! Be kind but firmly state what you want. Maybe it’s saying something like “I enjoy our friendship, but when you are being so negative, I struggle to be around you. I would appreciate if you kept your negativity to yourself when we are together” or “I find it difficult to hear you always complaining, I like spending time with you, how can we make this work?”. Trust yourself, you will find the right words. If you really want this person in your life but are having difficulties with the negativity, tell the truth! Check this out, for more tips on setting boundaries.   These 5 steps can help you protect yourself from the negativity around you. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be positive and reduce the negativity in your life. You deserve a happy, positive life! Try these tips over the holidays because there surely will be people you will run into who are in a negative frame of mind!

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