Briony Barton Therapy | frustrated woman

Christmas and Families and Expectation

There are a number of factors that determine whether or not one enjoys Christmas.

There are a number of factors that determine whether or not one enjoys Christmas.

Some things may not change, and can make Christmas a stressful and trying time for individuals, couples and families. This is a incomplete list but includes:

  • The anniversary of a loss
  • Missing those one has shared other Christmas’s with, particularly the very dear or recently departed
  • The financial drain
  • Spending time with those whose company one would not normally seek out
  • The extra work
  • Loneliness when it appears others are blessed by the company of many and much frivolity

My theory about Christmas is that expectation plays a large part in the Christmas experience.

If we say the Christmas season starts from about the 1st of December one can either have of 24 days of:

  • dreading Christmas and deep down inside chanting” I hate Christmas, I hate Christmas!”


  • Calm acceptance and/or dare I say it even pleasant anticipation giving yourself the message “Christmas will be fine, Christmas will be fine!

The one thing that is in our control is what our internal chant is. Based on the importance of expectation in how one experiences an event it follows that if one’s expectation or chant is the more positive “it will be okay” as opposed to “it is going to suck” you can choose to make the Christmas season a more pleasant one.

There is a degree of choice in what you chant. You are not forever subscribed to the message you have always given yourself.  Look at what you are chanting about Christmas and choose to not add 24 days of dread to the day itself.

There is something to be learnt from the individual who has always loved Christmas, from childhood to dotage saying on Boxing Day – only 364 days to the next Christmas….bring it on! The expectation  that Christmas will generally not disappoint makes it more pleasant in the anticipation and experience.

A friend of mine was given to declaring Christmas “a nightmare”, she hates it!  She often tells the story of her childhood where the Christmas season was not only silly, but downright sadistic as her parents used her as a pawn in the long running battle that was their ex-marriage. When her parents separated there was a fraction too much friction about where they would go and how much time they would spend with one parent or the other.

It was then that she developed that core belief that Christmas is a “nightmare”. It followed that 25 days of saying that almost guaranteed it will be a nightmare.

At some stage she realised that she could change the message she gave herself and while Christmas may not be the joyous time it is for some, she was giving herself a chance of experiencing it differently than she had as a child by allowing changing the message she kept chanting.

Considerable research has been conducted that shows a positive correlation between one’s expectation and one’s experience. Everything one can imagine has been researched from expectations of pain in childbirth to believing in one’s ability to give up smoking. If you are dreading Christmas yet again and that is , as Dr Phil would say “not working for you” an option is to do it differently and give yourself the gift of changing dread into pleasant opportunity!

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