Christmas Expectations bite

Christmas and Families and Expectation

Christmas expectations are born from our experiences around this time. Learn how to approach the season with less stress and more enjoyment!

Our own Christmas expectations play a big part in determining whether or not we enjoy the holiday season. Some factors cannot be changed, and can make Christmas a stressful and trying time. This affects all of us — individuals, couples and families. Here is an incomplete list but includes:

  • The anniversary of a loss
  • Missing special people that are very dear, or recently departed
  • The financial drain
  • Spending time with people you would not normally seek out
  • The extra work to prepare for Christmas events
  • Loneliness when you see others having fun with company

Changing a Christmas expectation

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. 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 the kids. Arguments 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 so almost guaranteed Christmas was a nightmare.

At some stage she realised that she could change the message she gave herself. While Christmas may not be the joyous time it is for some, she gave herself a chance to experience it differently. She did this by changing the message she kept chanting.

Expectation is the key

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 we can either have of 24 days of:

  • Dreading Christmas and deep down inside chanting "I hate Christmas, I hate Christmas!"
  • OR
  • Calm acceptance and/or, dare I say it, even pleasant anticipation giving yourself the message "Christmas will be fine, Christmas will be fine"

The only thing you can control is what your internal chant is. Based on the importance of expectation in how you experiences an event, it follows that if your 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.

Considerable research shows a positive correlation between one’s expectation and one’s experience. Everything you 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”, give yourself the gift of changing dread into pleasant opportunity!

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