Do you feel 'good enough' this Christmas?
As Christmas approaches, it is striking how many clients view the festive season with apprehension, if not dread. Even in the happiest of families it seems that it is a time of heightened anxiety and tension.
How is it that a festival celebrating life, generosity, and goodwill can evoke such strong emotions?
The sense I have is that many people at this time of year feel a weight of expectation, a pressure to make everything 'perfect' - perhaps even to be 'perfect' themselves. Natural vulnerabilities become exposed and exaggerated, leaving you feeling inadequate.
The pressure to please, along with the intensity of materialistic advertising can leave you responding to a whole series of shoulds, oughts and musts that may feel pretty miserable. You may overspend, agree to things you do not want, or generally find yourself off balance. You may also feel a stark contrast between the socially acceptable idea of Christmas, and the reality of your own life circumstances.
So what can we do? I think it is essential to remember that the festive season is intended to be a celebration and that you have the right to choose how you mark it.
Being aware of yourself, of what you want, need, and are prepared to do is a good starting place when planning this festive season. Having a healthy balance between what you want and what others request where desires conflict is essential.
Remembering that the greatest gift you can give is our time and attention can be grounded when you are navigating the minefield of present buying. Ask yourself what your motivation is for the gifts you buy, does it come from a joy of giving or a less positive stimulus?
Finally, being aware of your own adequacy, and remembering that we are all deeply sufficient, whatever we do or say, fits well with the messages of the traditional festive season. When you know both your own value and the equal value of those around you, it is a more simple matter to be open, generous and forgiving both to ourselves and to others.
If you are feeling the tensions of festive preparations, or find yourself facing difficult circumstances at this emotive time of year, consider getting in touch with a therapist to help you through the coming weeks and months. Finding compassion and acceptance in a therapeutic might just be the festive gift you value most.
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