‘Tis the Season!

Will you deny or accept all that comes with the holidays?

Christmas, or the December holidays, can be a magical time of year when many of us are surrounded by glee and generosity. People seem to be overflowing with the spirit of love and linger after a delicious feast to share stories and laughter with family.

It can truly be:

“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

But, I don’t personally always enjoy all the bells and whistles of the season because I also experience a lot of hustle, bustle and chaos.

Year after year I face some sort of emotional disruption during this time. I’m not exactly a scrooge or “Debby Downer”, it’s simply a time of year when I can feel off balance, worried, and disconnected. These feelings not only impact me on the actual holidays, but they impact me long before the holidays – in anticipation of – and long after the holidays as residual stress.

I’ve learned many people relate to this mixed experience and it’s no wonder. Maintaining a sense of balance this time of year is tricky! Many of us are pulled in a thousand directions which can leave us feeling disconnected. We often disagree with our partners about finances and have difficulty trying to balance work/personal/travel schedules.

Since I’m aware of these common challenges, I’d like to focus this blog on sharing tips about how we can establish and maintain a sense of connection to feel more capable of navigating conflicts throughout the month of December.

Our sense of conflict during the holidays can stem from several sources. One source is denial which can present itself in these ways:

Denial of our financial situation (overspending)
Denial of our emotional needs (not making enough time for personal care or reflection)
Denial of our physical needs (neglecting to exercise or rest)
Denial of communication needs (not setting healthy boundaries with our children and family)

When we’re in a state of Denial, it erodes our relationship with our self and with others. Here’s an overview of a vicious cycle that can happen as a result of being in denial.

When we’re in denial, we build a sense of separation and we disconnect from what’s going on. This creates a limited perspective, as if we have blinders on, and we’re less able to generate a positive outlook in moments of difficulty. As a result, most of us start to worry and become overwhelmed with difficult emotions. In the end, we feel off balance on the inside which often translates to a lack of balance in our relationships.

If denial is a concept you’re grappling with, consider this antidote: Acceptance. Accept there will be challenges over the holidays. You might fight with your lover, your kids might drive you bonkers, and your family might try to guilt you into overcommitting. Notice the challenges and BREATHE. Breathe in acceptance and breathe out denial.

Here’s a general overview of how the vicious cycle shifts when we start with acceptancerather than denial.

When we accept our situation, we build a sense of connection and pay attention to what’s going on. This creates a limitless perspective, an open-mind, and we’re better able to generate a positive outlook in moments of difficulty. As a result, most of us start to feel a greater sense of trust and confidence in overcoming challenges. In the end, we feel more balanced on the inside which translates into more balance in our relationships.

Let’s look at an example of these two cycles with an emphasis on a common challenge people face during the holidays: setting boundaries.

When you Deny that you need to set boundaries about your schedule/budget, and avoid communicating your boundaries, you will likely experience temporary relief from discomfort which usually results in short-term gain, but long-term pain. If you’re consistently saying “yes” to everyone, it’s only a matter of time before you hit a wall and become seriously limited, either physically or emotionally. Denial – separation – limits – worry – off balance.

When you Accept your situation and communicate your boundaries (for example by saying “no”) this can initially result in you feeling discomfort; but, the pain is short-term and the gain is long-term. As much as our children and family might complain about our expression of boundaries, they will often appreciate that you’ve been honest with them and honesty builds trust in relationships. Communicating boundaries is a self-care strategy that can help you feel more positive and open to brainstorming scheduling options. In the end, there’s usually a greater sense of balance and harmony in your relationships. Acceptance – connection – limitless – trust – balance.

*For more tips and tools on communicating effectively, check out my workbook “A Map to Limitless Parenting”.

Do your best to accept all that comes with the holidays this year. Remember it’s a perfectly imperfect world, full of chaos and magic. Your acceptance of whatever comes your way can create a greater sense of balance and happiness which is the greatest gift you can share with others.

I would love to hear what you learn from exploring acceptance and denial, please keep in touch and send me your stories.


Amber McAuley