How To Ditch Disappointment and Create Holidays that Truly Feel Good (click for post)

If the quest for holiday happiness routinely turns into disappointment or frustration, there’s often two reasons.

Sure, you might blame one of the usual suspects:

  • your crazy family
  • those awful shoppers at the mall
  • just too much to do
  • the commercialism of the holidays
  • or maybe even the weather

But, none of those things really has the power to ruin your holiday.

Harrowing holidays usually happen because of two things:

  • you’re not being true to you
  • and you’re expecting the holidays to give you something you’re not giving yourself

Start by asking yourself one question: How do I want my holidays to feel?

Then adjust accordingly.

Remember: You have the power to change the things that don’t align with your current desired feelings.

It’s when you don’t think you have a choice and therefore revert back to “default” mode that you usually end up frustrated.

Why I Canceled the Christmas Party

I learned this the hard way. About 10 years ago I started a tradition of throwing an annual holiday party for some of our friends. For many years it felt really good. I looked forward to it and enjoyed the fun and connection I felt during it.

But then my feelings about it began to change. I changed. Eventually it didn’t feel good anymore. I came to see it as weeks of planning and work, plus quite a hefty expense, with few of the feelings of connection I craved. Eventually I dreaded it more than I looked forward to it.

For awhile, I forgot I had a choice in the matter.

Then my waning enthusiasm for the party started showing up in other ways. For example, I stopped doing some of my annual Christmas decorating. I just felt too depleted to do it all. It was then I knew something had to change.

Lost and Found

So two years ago, I sat down a few days after our annual party and journaled all my thoughts. In page after page I saw the pattern. I’d lost myself in this tradition. It wasn’t creating any of my current desired feelings. In fact, it was doing the opposite! In that moment I vowed that until my feelings changed, the tradition would end. I finally exercised my right to choose.

And I followed through.

This will be the second year we don’t host our party. As a result, my spark for the holidays has returned.

This year I realized that remembering some of my first holiday traditions and what they represented, made me feel more connected than anything.

Tinsel Tree Memories

One of my happiest memories from the grade school years was going to my grandmother’s home for Christmas Eve. Seeing her was my favorite part of Christmas. She had a big bay window, and in it was her illuminated tinsel tree — glowing out into the night. From the moment we pulled into the driveway, my eyes locked on that tree. It was magical to me. Not only was it shiny and beautiful, but it symbolized time with my grandmother and all her kindness and love.

This year I found a tree similar to the one I remember and added it to our holiday decor. That little tree has been wonderful. It amplified my feelings of connection with my grandmother and all the Christmas Eves I spent at her home. Even though she’s been gone for nearly 20 years, when I look at my new tinsel tree, I can almost feel her standing beside me.

If You Can’t Ditch It — Alter It!

If you don’t feel comfortable simply ditching traditions that no longer feel good, see if you can figure out how to make them feel better. Put on your thinking cap and get creative. I’ve done a lot of that through the years. I’ve learned that when you openly and lovingly discuss the desire to alter holiday activities with family and friends who will be affected by it — that desire is often shared by many of them too. You’re just the first person to speak up.

The Feeling Starts With You

The other common source of disappointment is when you go into the holidays with an expectation that they will feel a certain way. The problem arises when you don’t bring any of that desired feeling with you — instead, expecting the holiday to give it to you. That rarely works. Let your desired feeling be part of your journey throughout the holiday and see how that changes the overall feeling.

In other words: Don’t expect the holidays to give you feelings you’re not currently giving yourself. <– Click to Tweet!

4 Steps to Creating a Feel-Good Holiday

If you’re ready to create your own type of feel-good traditions, use the four steps below.

  1. Choose your top 1 – 3 desired feelings for the holiday.
  2. For each one, see where you can give yourself that feeling right now. Take the steps to feel the feeling.
  3. Choose the traditions you think will compliment that feeling. If a tradition is not working, eliminate it and create what you really want. (If you feel you can’t eliminate it, alter it.)
  4. Create and bring your desired feelings with you throughout the holidays.

Wishing you a holiday season filled with love and happiness.
XO


Photo courtesy of Vicky Brock on Flickr.

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Posted in: Creating Joy,Feel Your Feelings

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How to set intentions and get what you really want (click for post)There’s one thing that’s become the driving force behind my best-feeling days.

It influences whether I will be productive or if I will remain unfocused.

It’s my key to getting what I want and hitting the goals I set.

It even helps in determining if I eat foods that nourish my body or if I just grab something because it’s quick.

What is it?

I begin the day by setting an intention.

Maybe you’re thinking that doesn’t sound very glamorous. But trust me, it is. It’s like having a super secret magic power.

On-Purpose Living

Setting an intention for the day is like writing up a shopping list. It’s purpose-driven. It’s the way to make sure you get what you want. This is my secret to taking charge of my day.

You’ve grocery shopped without a list before, right? It’s hit or miss, at best. I know, I used to do it all the time in college. That’s why my refrigerator contents back then normally consisted of fast food ketchup packets, beer, pickles, usually a couple of out-of-date yogurts, and diet Pepsi. There was no plan — therefore the result was lackluster. Without fail, I’d spend the next week pacing around the kitchen, looking for food and not finding anything I wanted to eat.

When I got organized enough to start planning my grocery trips, I found I could actually create real meals from what I had in my kitchen.

That was always my goal. But with no planning, it didn’t happen. By taking a few minutes ahead of time to decide how I wanted my end result to feel — and then taking appropriate action — I could really create it.

It’s the same way with setting an intention for your day. Knowing how you want to end up feeling is the first step in making it happen.

Busy vs. Focused

Let’s get real here: I don’t always set an intention for my day. Some days I get busy and forget. Those are the exact days I end up at 5 pm wondering where the day went. As I replay it in my mind, I realize most of my activities didn’t match up to my true priorities. I usually note a loss of focus with lots of busy work, but few desired results.

How to Set Intentions in 5 Easy Steps

Intention setting isn’t difficult. You can set intentions for the day itself or you can set them around the key areas of your life.

This process can literally take less than 5 minutes. In fact, it can be done while you’re drinking your morning coffee. Write it out or do it in your head — whatever works best for you. If you’re ready, here’s how to do it:

1. Look at your what occupies much of your thoughts on any given day. Is it your work, eating habits, relationship, etc…? Let these natural inclinations help guide you to where you’d like to focus. This will usually ensure that you’re aligning with your natural priorities. If you don’t come up with a specific area of focus, that’s okay. Just focus on the day as a whole.

2. Then ask yourself, “When I come to the end of this day, how do I want to feel?” Examples of feelings may include: loved, joyful, peaceful, satisfied, elated, or whatever else feels good to you. Narrow it down to only what feels best to you. Then choose 1 – 3 of the feelings you are most craving.

3. Consider what activities could help you feel those desired feelings. For example, if you are in the process of writing a book — maybe sitting at the computer and writing at least 1 page during the day would create a desired feeling of contentment.

Once you’ve considered your activities, it’s time to narrow them down. Make a list of 1 – 3 activities to try for the day, that you think will create your desired feelings (from step #2 above). It’s important to keep the total at 3 or less activities. Any more, and the likelihood of completion decreases dramatically. And remember: 1 activity can create multiple feelings. For example, when I eat meals that contain primarily whole foods I feel proud, energetic, and happy.

4. Find a way to keep your desired feelings and planned activities front and center during your day. Perhaps put them on your calendar. Maybe set an alarm on your phone. Or use sticky notes. Find what works for you. But find something — because without follow-through, nothing changes.

5. Finally, here’s where the magic happens. Take what I call, inspired action. Perform the actions (from step #3) that will elicit the feelings you’re craving. Stay present in knowing that your current actions are creating the feelings you crave. Knowing the desired feelings are now on their way to you, practice feeling those feelings as soon as you begin taking action. By expanding the feeling in this way — you’ll find your actions begin to feel inspired as a result. That’s magic in my book!

Experiment and have fun with the process. See where it takes you.

Sending love!
XO


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Posted in: Self-care

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When You Feel Like an Outsider Looking In

by Piper Larson on October 24, 2013

When You Feel Like an Outsider Looking In (click for post)I used to be a control freak. Okay…I’ll admit, sometimes I still am.

Maybe you’re one too? Before you dismiss the idea, consider the following:

  • When you’re honest, do you want to choose what people think about you?
  • Do you avoid learning new things for fear of looking foolish?

If you answered YES to either of the above — you might want to keep reading. And if you sometimes feel like an outsider in your own life, this may be the reason.

Vulnerability

In my opinion, control is the most commonly used antidote for vulnerability, or letting yourself be truly open and seen. Control certainly was my drug of choice for this reason.

For years, I ran from even the idea of being vulnerable. I saw it as weak and dangerous. It brought back painful childhood memories of a time when I couldn’t protect myself.

In the dictionary, antonyms to the word “vulnerable” are: guarded, protected, closed. That pretty much summed up my behavior during those years. I’ve come to realize, it wasn’t just me. This is a common theme in the lives of many women I work with.

At the time, I wanted to control everything and everyone around me. I thought this made me strong. Looking back, I was like a child. If I couldn’t control a situation then I wasn’t going to be a part of if.

This behavior didn’t feel good. Instead, it left me feeling like an outsider looking in.

It’s because life without vulnerability feels one-dimensional. Vulnerability is the pathway to connection with those around us. Vulnerability’s the place where our humanity intertwines with others.  [<--Click to tweet!]

How Vulnerability Limits You

In my experience, lack of vulnerability didn’t just feel bad, it was crippling.

I have memories of watching fellow students voicing their confusion over proofs in calculus class. As a result, they got individual attention and went on to understand them. I remained guarded and silent and barely squeaked through with a passing grade.

I remember being awful at hitting the ball in softball. No one ever taught me how to do it — so of course I wouldn’t know how. But instead of admitting I needed help, and maybe looking a little foolish, I just never played softball.

And those are just a few of the many examples I could share…

This was an ongoing pattern in my life. I felt pangs of jealousy for the connection I saw among others as they became vulnerable with each other — but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.

Embracing Vulnerability

Luckily things have changed. This week was a perfect example. I’m currently in a class with an active forum. Students post their work to the forum and receive feedback. Over the past few weeks I’ve posted a handful of assignments. Some have gotten kudos and likes and some have received criticism. Early this week, what I posted wasn’t liked at all. It wasn’t pretty.

Part of me wanted to hide. But I didn’t retreat.

I knew even before I posted that it wasn’t my best work. They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know. I reminded myself to see their responses for what they were: feedback. Opinions.

Their opinions happened to echo what I already knew deep down. But regardless of my feelings about my work, their responses alone had no power to hurt me. My thoughts about them would determine their effect. And I kept my thoughts centered around the fact that it was only feedback. I admitted I needed help and opened to letting them give it to me.

I listened to their ideas. Because I knew my work needed something — but I wasn’t quite sure what, I leaned on them. I collected the suggestions that resonated with me and went back to the drawing board. 24 hours later I had something I was finally proud of.

If I hadn’t allowed myself to be vulnerable I would have never received the help of my classmates. Thanks to them, I was able to get to a depth in my work that I may not have gotten to otherwise. Plus, I felt a connection with the women who helped me.

Embracing vulnerability takes many forms. It can be:

  • accepting that you can’t control what others think about you, but showing up anyway
  • keeping a loving dialogue open even when you don’t agree with the words being spoken
  • admitting you can’t do it all

3 Steps to Leaning Into Vulnerability

If you’re ready to test the waters, try the following:

1. Remember that your thoughts matter, a lot. For example: Let’s say someone offers an opinion that differs from yours. Your thoughts about it will determine if you simply acknowledge that their opinion conflicts with yours. Or, if you spin off to a dark place where you believe terrible things about yourself or the other person because of your differences. Aim to keep your thoughts in a neutral place.

2. Fear of being vulnerable can be a indicator of an overall feeling of a lack of security in life. If you think this might be an issue for you, amp up that feeling of security wherever possible. Ask yourself: “What makes me feel safe?” Maybe it’s being around people you trust. Perhaps it’s making sure your insurance is up-to-date. Or maybe it’s just curling up on the couch with your favorite furry friend. Take action to increase feelings of security and then check in with yourself to see how it feels.

I bet you’re more familiar with this concept than you realize. Think back to when you were 14 years old and wanted to call that boy you liked. Alone it seemed terrifying. But with a group of friends — you suddenly felt courageous. It’s because they helped you feel more secure.

3. Practice self-acceptance and self-love. Be gentle with yourself. Admit that this may be scary. Remind yourself why you’re choosing to do it. Feel the feelings that come up and let them move through you. Remember that your opinions of yourself are what really matter. And don’t forget — this takes time. Keep that in mind to avoid feeling discouraged.

It’s an ongoing process. I know. I’m right there with you — practicing it every day.

Sending lots of love,
XO


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Posted in: Feel Your Feelings,Power of Thoughts,Universal Needs

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