Stop Unnecessary Guilt From Ruining Your Holidays

November 3, 2008
Guilt creates more problems during the holiday season than the combination of a UPS strike, a power outage on the night of the school play, and a turkey that failed to thaw on time. Learn how to reduce all that stress (or most of it, anyway).

Hint for a More Pleasant Holiday This Year

Perfectionists get themselves tied in great knots over attempting to do things as perfectly as possible (okay, more than possible) during the holidays. Perhaps you can identity with this frazzled woman who, like too many women (and a few men), has attempted to do more than is essential during the holidays.

You can’t see the Martha Stewart table in the dining room that is arranged with exquisite place settings and decorations she spent hours making, and that will not be noticed as much as her intense and hectic presentation. You see, if perfectionists don’t do more than is essential, they experience the guilt of worrying that they didn’t do “enough.”

However, even if you don’t see yourself as a perfectionist, this holiday suggestion is simply good advice for anyone during the last two months of the year.

Cooking Thanksgiving dinner

Today I offer this to you as my suggestion for an excellent way to avoid the stressful holiday rush, especially in a year from finances are tighter than a dress two sizes too small.

Guilt creates more problems during the holiday season than the combination of a UPS strike, a power outage on the night of the school play, and a turkey that failed to thaw on time. That is because this is the time of year when it is assumed that people will demonstrate love, good will, and generosity to all. That’s a tough order for many of us when we’re trying to juggle work, family, community activities – and still find a little bit of time for relaxation and renewal.

For people (primarily women) who are afraid they won’t be loving enough, show enough good will, or be generous enough, the season’s expectations are a particularly heavy burden. Knowing they’re flawed, but wanting to hide that fact from others, they try ever harder to give their maximum effort in all they do. Dashing from one hectic activity to another, they act as though they were appointed God’s special assistants, doing lots of things they wouldn’t chose to do if they didn’t feel such pressure to perform.

Believe me, as someone whose gift-wrappings thirty-five years ago were photographed because they were so stunning, I understand this dynamic all too well. Now that I’m a recovering perfectionist, I have even been known on occasion to give a gift in a brown paper bag (horrors! I would have been so embarrassed back then.)

 

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