No matter what’s been coming up for you this holiday season, the majority of all those negative feelings like stress, frustration, disappointment, anger and general pissiness came from one single cause: your expectations.
Expectations are funny creatures. We all have expectations of what other people should do or what things should be like, yet it’s all a fantasy. None of it is real. So why do we unconsciously have them? To prepare us for a certain outcome in the future. It’s our way of protecting ourselves from the unknown. But, it’s a double-edged sword. When things don’t turn out as we expect, we’re left with a feeling that’s a lot like a bad hangover.
"Act without expectation." -Lao Tzu
The answer to avoid the expectation hangover is to stop future-tripping. This is especially true during the holidays when we have expectations of gifts, workplace bonuses, and what things should look like. It’s especially important now, more than ever, to stay in the present moment.
So let’s bring it back to the topic at hand. Why did your Christmas suck?
Because your memories and expectations are based on what things are “supposed to be.” When we look back at past holidays, we often remember them through rose-colored glasses. Between movies, jewelry commercials, and Hallmark cards, we have glowing assumptions of what the Season should offer. And all of this prevents us from dealing with what is actually in front of us.
And while being mindful is a muscle we all need to build, we can’t go back in time and change your expectations. So let’s address the feeling you’re having right now.
If your holiday season has been more stressful than joyful, here’s your assignment:
Take a good look at the things that caused you grief. Can you find the good in them? How did they happen “for you” and not “to you?” Each experience is an assignment, an opportunity to learn a lesson. And when we regard them in this way, we are able to find solace amidst the pain.
Need support? Want to vent? Share your story with me in the Comments section below!