Being happy is very important before, during and after the holiday season. This requires 3 things: Affect or Feeling Expression, Behavior-how much you do for yourself and others during this hectic season, and Cognition-how you feel about your self.
Affect perhaps is the hardest for women and people of color to express. Frequently during the holidays we put on a happy face so that friends or loved ones don't really know how we really are feeling. Don't do that! First identify your feeling states: mad, glad, sad, scared. Most people confuse being angry with being depressed, because it makes you feel less guilty and threatening to others. Instead, label and announce your feelings. Don't want to prepare and have the traditional dinner, because that's the way it is always been? Then Don't, the world won't come to an end. People may be upset initially, but they will get over it! Any change is a process, and this no different with relatives and friends. Lower your expectations-everyone can't be the Cosby family.
You can't change others, but you can change your Behavior. Like affect, it is easiest to do what you have always done, in fact the best predictor of what will happen in the future is what has happened in the past. Don't fall victim to this cycle, you too can turn and go down a different road. Assertiveness is a learned technique and a choice. Most of us fall into being non-assertive or aggressive. In other words we let people walk all over us (non-assertive) until we blow up at someone (aggressive) over something that is not even related to what we were upset about in the first place. We may feel that our behavior is controlled by others, so we may even be able to state our feelings, but can't take that next step to request what we really want. Using the holiday dinner example, one option would be to alternate, share or designate someone else to take responsibility for the meal. Or go out! This is not unheard of, in fact you could change your holiday tradition all together. Change is not a bad thing. Further, there are 300+ other days that you can celebrate. Or better still, rejoice or fete an "ordinary" day. Sometimes it is just good to let people know what they mean to us-unexpectedly.
Cognitions, or how we feel should not be reflected in how others think of us, but how we feel about ourselves. The malady of low self-esteem is rampant in this day of perfect bodies and advanced degrees. You are where you are supposed to be! Moreover, you are in charge of any life change that you choose to make! Others cannot make us happy, that is our responsibility. This is the season for giving, but receiving as well. But we also cannot give if we have given everything we have. This is especially pertinent if we have children. While we want them to be happy the commercialization of the season makes us feel "less than" if we cannot provide the latest fashion or hottest toy. Your kids will love you anyway!
Make the holidays and everyday yours-whether it is an old or new tradition, whether it is Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, or not at all. Do what makes you happy not only this time of year, but make every day of the year! It can be as easy as A - B - C. Make this a promise for 2010!
Dr. Hicks is anxious to hear about your relationships and work situations of all kinds. She may have the answer for you! Contact her at http://www.transformationservices.info/