It’s that time of year again. The festive season. A time to eat, drink and be merry, amongst all things starry and bright. At least, that’s the perception. The reality can often be very different.
December always seems to creep up on me, faster than the year before, even though I know it’s on its way and despite good intentions of getting organised in advance. I have to admit, this hasn’t always been my favourite time of year. In the past my (unrealistic) expectations and assumptions of what December is supposed to be like left me feeling under pressure, with a sense of urgency and panic to ‘get ready’ for a month of decorating, baking, shopping, crafting, socialising, cooking, house cleaning/titivating, spending, eating, drinking, visiting, driving, card-posting, emailing…(breathe). Not to mention the self-inflicted cattle prod from my conscience to finish off half-baked projects, tick off items on my ‘To Do’ list at work, make some progress with half-hearted goals, set with good intention, back in January. All this pressure simply to feel like I had the year neatly gift-wrapped and tied up with a bow. All this self-imposed stress in order to feel like I was a ‘normal’ human being playing the game of life by the rules.
It’s no wonder I used to feel burnt-out and crave to spend the last few days of the month under the duvet cover. (And yes, I do realise that if I had children that list would be twice as long. Much respect to you all).
With the help of some Winning Edge principles, I have learned to enjoy December. I’m sharing what I learned as a reminder to myself and in case it’s helpful for you too:• There is nothing in life I have to do. If I can live with the consequences, there is nothing I have to do. Words like ‘have to’, ‘should’, ‘ought’, ‘got to’, ‘must’ are victim language and suggest that I am not in control. I am. I can make different choices. • My decisions and choices come from my values and principles and the information/feelings I have at the time. If I decide to stay up late to bake cupcakes for colleagues, work late to complete a project, spend my weekend driving to see relatives, it’s because I want to do so more than I don’t, or more than any other choice available to me at the time. “If you are ever unsure where you want to be at any time, check where your feet are” (still one of my favourite Winning Edge key statements). • There are no sacrifices and there is no altruism. When I ‘sacrifice’ my time to attend an event, or ‘put myself out’ to do a favour for someone else, I do that for myself. I get an emotional pay-off – it makes me feel better because it’s important to me, so there is no point in complaining. • Guilt is a powerful emotion that can be a force for good as well as a source of negative stress. No-one can make me feel guilty, without my consent. Whatever decision I make, it’s a choice I make for me, it’s not against another. Letting go of the guilt is not always easy but is usually very liberating. • When I’m with my family I often find myself dodging bullets. I don’t have to load the gun. Nor does it help to fire bullets back. Most of the time, it’s better to put up and shut up. (I’ll admit I’m always working on this one ;-)). • Perfection comes from a place of fear – fear of letting people down; fear of not being good enough; fear of what others will think of me; fear of being judged; fear of discomfort…I’m sure you get my drift. When fear and negativity take over in my brain, I over-analyse, obsess about detail, procrastinate, criticise and blame. I give away my power.
If I don’t bake, say no to a social invitation, decide not to travel to visit a relative, don’t decorate my home like Blackpool tower, don’t tick everything off my list, am I going to die? No. Whatever happens, I will be OK. And so will you.
I have learned there is no right or wrong way to enjoy this festive season. Regardless of whether you celebrate Christmas, make it a memorable end to the year, for all the right reasons.
By Hazel Morley
About the Author: Hazel has worked as a Trainer, Facilitator and Coach for over 25 years, a number of which were spent as an Associate for Mancroft International. She believes in an inside-out approach to personal development and change and thrives on helping others who are ready to exercise their response-ability for being the best version of themselves. Her mantra is ‘always do what you think you might regret not doing’.
Hazel transformed her lifestyle in 2009, when she relocated to beautiful British Columbia, Canada. She gives credit to the Winning Edge principles for the nudge to move to the mountains. Since living in Canada, Hazel has expanded her portfolio of enabling others to achieve their career goals to include ways to create optimal health and live with vitality. She is fascinated by the power of the mind-body-lifestyle connection and the body’s innate ability to protect and heal us from disease.