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You Don’t Have to Be Disappointed During the Holidays

picture of flowers and light, disappointment, Katherine Broadway, counseling, Raleigh Psychotherapy

Carlos went for his yearly physical and the phlebotomist asked, “Are you ready for Christmas?” This was a particularly difficult question for him because he has no one with whom to spend the holiday. He and his girlfriend broke up, his family is far away and his friends will all be off visiting their families. He is heart broken and disappointed, he expected that he would be having a happy holiday with his girlfriend. The phlebotomist was making typical holiday conversation, she had no idea that Paul was having a difficult time.

Disappointment is a difficult emotion. It can step in and ruin any experience. You are having a good time, something happens, your expectations are not met, and boom! Disappointment sets in, and the experience is ruined.

Looking at our expectations can help us not be disappointed.

The holiday season is crammed with expectations and filled with opportunities for them not to be met. Most of these expectations are not what we create for ourselves, but those that are presented to us by the media, family, friends, and even strangers. In the example above, the phlebotomists expected Paul to have happy plans for the holiday.

Emotional Osmosis

So often, what we expect and feel at holiday time happens through what I call “emotional osmosis." We see, hear, and are surrounded by messages that seep into our pores. Many of these messages have been with us for years without our noticing. Emotional osmosis does not have to control us, it can be managed.

You can begin the process of managing “emotional osmosis” by stopping and paying attention to yourself. A good starting point is to think about what is being expected of you for the next week.

What Do I Want?

After you have answered that question, now ask yourself the very simple and very difficult question: “What do I want from the next week/few days?” It can be followed by other questions to help you clarify. “What am I interested in doing? Do I want to treat this time like any other long weekend? Why does it have to be special?”

Listen carefully to your thoughts and take note of the feelings that arise. At times, your feelings will tell you about what you actually want, as opposed to what you “should” and “ought” to do. As you go through your activities in the following days, notice what works for you. Focus on what goes well.

Unknown Expectations

Many of the expectations you will discover in this process you may not realize you carry. Identifying them is only the first step; learning to disconnect may be more difficult. Be patient, and encourage yourself rather than criticize yourself. Practice creating your own ideas and feeling your own desires.

As you are starting to create a life you want and enjoy, there maybe people in your life that are disappointed because you are choosing your own path. They may even blame you for causing their unhappiness. Believe it or not, you are not responsible for anyone’s happiness but your own. Be clear and kind as you decide what makes you happy.

Are you having difficulty finding your way through disappointment? I can help you. Call (919) 881-2001

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