Well, it’s more like, ignore your obsession with other people’s thoughts.
To get a taste of my obsession here’s what I think YOU’LL think about me after you read my story:
1.) She’s Scrooge, reincarnated.
2.) She’s the Grinch, who stole Christmas.
3.) She’s a little nuts.
I give you full permission to think these thoughts. Think away! These are your thoughts. Not mine. You have control over them. I don’t. That’s the whole point.
Sigh. And I don’t want to try and manipulate your thoughts about me anymore. It’s too exhausting.
My perfect Christmas
Pre-2009, I did Christmas right. I sang in a Christmas choir. I sent personal, hand-written cards to each of my friends and family. I gave gifts. I put up decorations. I went to my office Christmas party. I ate fudge. I drank whiskey. I drove hundreds of miles in blizzards to visit in-laws. I went into serious consumer debt.
And, I pretty much hated it all. Yep. “Dread” was the first word that came to mind when I thought about the holidays. I came up with about 12 different serious, life-threatening illnesses I could pretend to get on the day of my office Christmas party to have an excuse not to go.
Here’s why. Christmas was the height of my approval-seeking madness. I wanted to give the perfect gift to several dozen people, be the perfect neighbor with the perfect lights, send the perfect card. Not because I enjoyed it. No … because the thought that if I didn’t do it, people wouldn’t like me, wouldn’t love me, wouldn’t approve of me. It was a requirement I couldn’t skip in the approval-seeking game. What was awful about it, was that I never quite measured up to my perfect standards.
When I stopped giving presents
Even when I stopped giving Christmas presents two years ago, and gave up sending Christmas cards, I was still obsessed with making my decision to do that okay in other people’s eyes. I lobbied (hard) for a family Christmas-gift exchange, and a saner, quieter holiday. I wanted my family to say, “Yes, you’re totally right. We’ll do exactly what you want.”
When I told my story about why I gave up giving presents, I got to feel superior, smarter, and a lot lonelier. I had a lot of “good” reasons for what I was doing, but believe me, I wasn’t approving of it in my own mind. I was waiting for everyone else to approve of it, before I gave myself permission to celebrate the holiday any which way I pleased. This made me miserable. It made me mean. It made me Scrooge.
A Sane Christmas
This year, for the first time in a long time, I’m actually enjoying the holidays. Why? Because I’ve given up trying to control what people think about me and how I celebrate it and how they celebrate it. I’m doing it my way, and I’m letting other people do it their way. This is the only sane way to live.
Will I give gifts? Maybe a few. Will I send cards? Yes. Will I decorate the tree? Yes. Why? Because it feels good this year to me. It’s just something fun to do. It has nothing to do with my self-image anymore or being perfect. It’s about focusing on what’s really in my control (my thoughts and feelings) and leaving other people’s thoughts and feelings alone.
I encourage you to do the same.
In fact, I give you full permission to live your life in December the only way you know how to live it – your way. If that means giving everyone you know a present, then so be it. If that means ditching the office Christmas party for a quiet night with your loved one or a favorite book, so be it. If that means putting up bright reindeer on your lawn, so be it. If that means never doing the frantic, last-minute shopping run again, then so be it.
It’s all up to you.
If you want to end your Christmas madness, contact me to set up a complimentary A-Ha Moment Session and learn what it’s like to feel free again during the holidays.