If January is the season of resolutions, then I suggest that December is the season of guilt.
There are so many external pressures on us at this time of year, from family, friends and the media, that if you’re not continually watchful, you can fast end up either conforming to other people’s expectations (and resenting them), or not conforming, and feeling guilty.
Consider, for example, potential guilt from:
- Eating too much.
- Eating the wrong things (how many times a day, in December, do you encounter temptations?).
- Not finding time to exercise (why don’t people schedule their parties around your workout plans?).
- Overspending (you got carried away, or misjudged what was appropriate).
- Underspending (you can’t afford much this year, or forgot someone altogether).
- Buying gifts & food instead of making them (blame the magazines for this one).
- Not putting (enough) lights up.
- Buying a real tree.
- Not buying a real tree.
- Forgetting to send cards, or not including a charming family photo and witty, personal letter.
And I could go on and on. My point is, any joy and serenity you hope to feel at this time of year is quickly undermined when we allow external standards to rule us. For Serenity Topic 25, please forgive yourself. Tell yourself you’re doing your best, that the festive season was never meant to be a mental health hazard, and that if other people don’t like something, they’ll either put up with it, or they’re not true friends anyway.
If you’re an introvert, don’t go to a party you won’t enjoy. If you hate to be near a kitchen, don’t strangle yourself in apron strings. If you find the whole thing frankly overwhelming, it’s okay to opt out and buy yourself a new book. If you need permission to ditch any other kind of seasonal guilt, shoot me a note. I’ll be here to tell you it’s fine to step back from an expectation. Instead, why not review all these suggestions and pick something nurturing for yourself?
This year, my tree is artificial, there are no lights dangling from our gutters, not a single cookie has been baked and I am a long way short of finding perfect gifts. But, here and now, I forgive myself. I invite you to do the same.
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