It happens every year. We look forward to the holiday lights, the office party, impromptu get togethers with friends and family, and most of us look forward to giving and getting Christmas gifts. So why is this most joyful time of the year so stressful? Why are we so good at sucking all the goodness, peace, and good cheer into shopping madness, stress, and quick tempers?
The answer is obvious…or should be. It’s the disappointment of failed expectations.
Setting expectations for ourselves is meant to be energizing, motivating, and a guiding light toward a purposeful life. When done right, setting expectations for ourselves can make us better people, improve our relationships, and make us more valuable employees. When done wrong, as we tend to do with these short term “to-do” lists for the holidays, we fail and stress out. Why?
We too often set expectations to meet our own needs rather than the needs of those around us. But we can, with practice, develop a wider perspective.
Failed expectations are a double-edged sword. When we only consider our own need, we become depressed. When we only consider everyone’s else’s needs, we become emotionally strung out. The key is balance. Set expectations for yourself that are attainable and reachable, and let everyone else set their own expectations and allow them to be responsible for them.
This Christmas, let’s agree to love ourselves more, be more patient with ourselves, and accept our shortcomings. It may well be our greatest gift to those around us.