The holidays can be the time of year that we most fully ‘lose’ ourselves in busyness or harsh self-talk.
We all have our personal ways that self-judgment or others’ judgment can threaten the experience of joy this season. So below is a list of things to keep in your mind and heart as you move forward in the next week.
- Remember yourself, not just the to-do list. There is a state of stress where we can truly forget our own existence in that moment. Work to stay visible. Remember you and your own worthiness, regardless of what does or doesn’t get done.
- Think kind thoughts about yourself. The core of this time of year is often about showing others how much we appreciate them…which is wonderful. But remember, we all matter. You’re included. Show others you love them AND send some of that love and appreciation inward too.
- Contain your attention. Judgment can only have its way with us if we allow our attention to flow there. Be a steward of your own attention and do your best to notice when it has flowed into the imagined thoughts or feelings of other people. Others may indeed be stressed out and judging you. But do you want your water in their bucket or your own?
- Observe your stress and seize its opportunity. We’re going to get stressed out this time of year. But you have the ability to get more visible to yourself, and observe your current habits of thinking under stress. This is a crucial step. We have to recognize our passive habits before we can change or adjust them.
- Carry yourself. The idea of your mindfulness bucket is powerful for one main reason: It’s a tool to carry yourself in the directions you want to go. To take an active role in your life and experiences, you must become a leader of yourself. The holidays can pull us in a million directions of busyness if we’re not in that oversight role for ourselves. This time of year can also bring more time with family members who can have their own ideas of who we are, or who we “should be.” Follow yourself and your own truth – not other people’s.
- Protect yourself. By taking that more active role for yourself, you are also much more prepared to take action and protect yourself if needed. An essential pain of life is that others may judge us harshly at times. This is a function of their stress – not the truth. If you find yourself with family members who are trying to force disempowering roles on you, use your bucket and its boundaries to distinguish your truth from theirs.
- Watch out for concerns about “what others might think”. Keep an eye on your thinking and watch out for glimmers of thought about being the “successful” or “put-together” family member. These thoughts can creep up for all of us. It’s natural to want to feel accepted by your tribe. But when you are carrying yourself, you don’t need to be seen as anything by anyone else….you carry your own truth.
- Maintain or revise your boundaries. When we are more visible to our self and our truth, sometimes we see some more authentic ways of being in our relationships. It can even mean we need to limit some interactions. If you observe family dynamics this holiday that are a bit eye opening, give yourself permission to respond and make different decisions if that feels right.
- Make YOUR joy a priority. When we’re bogged down with busyness and dark feelings of judgment, the biggest loss is our joy. Those things can take up all the room in our bucket. Make your own joy a priority this holiday. Resolve to keep an eye out for joy and soak it in wherever you can find it.
- Focus on your body during those joyful moments. This is a simple way to start being more mindful to the full experience of joy. Approach this with curiosity. When you are watching that adorable moment with your children or other family, shift your attention to yourself for a second and just see how many ways you can feel the joy of that moment. Imagine wringing that moment of all the joy that you can.
Jessica is a psychotherapist, relationship and addiction expert, and creator of The Visible Self ® and VisibleU™ system. Over the last 17 years she has helped hundreds of busy adults create healthier habits and more satisfying relationships.
Jessica received her Master’s in Applied Psychology from New York University, and completed mediation training at the Columbia University School of Law. She has held numerous clinical roles, managed clinical operations for a national EAP, and advised executives on employee-relations concerns at Fortune 1000 companies. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband and a master instructor of mindful living …their Border Collie/Pointer-mix “Abby”.