Are you feeling anxious about the upcoming holiday season? Lowering expectations might offer the key to a more peaceful, fulfilling month ahead.
I think of it like a sliding scale. Some people positively thrive during this time of year. They can’t wait to experience the build-up to the holidays. For those people: This article isn’t for you!
On the other hand, if you feel a mixed bag of emotions, or if you just dread the upcoming months: This article might be just what you’re looking for.
What is lowering expectations? And why is it so important?
Our expectations set the bar for everything we experience.
This leads me to think of the word “hope.” One time in a counseling session recently, my therapist said something provocative. She said, “Hope is a tricky word. It can be a good thing in many ways, and in some circumstances, it can lead to disappointment.”
She explained that when we have hope, we raise our expectations. We’re hoping things can somehow be different than they are.
Then when we don’t get what we’d hoped for, we feel let down.
Reasons you need to know how to lower expectations:
It’s important to work with these tools because, in doing so, you might end up being able to find yourself refreshed, fulfilled, and even content after the holiday season concludes!
This is important because you might even experience the following:
- Deeper connection with others because you release illusions about how things should be.
- Joy and levity that you didn’t see coming!
- Moments of peace and contentment because you allowed yourself to be in the moment.
- That unexplainable happy feeling you can only have when you’ve been good to yourself.
These five steps may help, in different ways, to shape a new experience for you. Let’s take a look:
Step-by-Step Instructions to Help Lower Expectations and Enjoy the Holidays!
I’ve compiled a list of strategies I’ve discovered through other teachers, authors, and friends. I hope they might give you the perspective and support you need to tackle the upcoming holiday season with vigor!
The strategies include:
- See giving as an expression of your true nature.
- Appreciate the holiday scene as a collage of mixed emotions and accept it exactly as it is.
- Arm yourself with affirmations that provide levity and support as you pass through the threshold of the holiday season.
- Schedule self-care daily.
- Focus on fun.
Let’s visit them individually and see what we can add to our toolbag this holiday season.
Focus on giving as an act of kindness and as raising your energy field.
“The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience.”
The act of giving places you in the frequency of abundance. And it is a reflection of who we are at the deepest level.
This step offers a radical shift in perspective. Instead of thinking of yourself, think about others with whom you can share your kindness and generosity.
If you have difficulty feeling aligned in doing this at home, try to give to children in need. There is no faster cure for stepping out from self-pity than spending time giving and making a difference.
** Are you looking for charities that support women? Check these out.
Lowering expectations means accepting everything as it is.
We know that every day has moments of joy and those of sadness. Feelings of loss, grief, overwhelm, and disappointment mix with those of anticipation, gratitude, and contentment on a moment-to-moment basis.
And through a more mature, accepting lens, we can see the whole picture coming together, with our feelings blending.
My favorite source of spiritual comfort is the Tao Te Ching. And here is one of my takeaways from Verse Two:
Our opinions and judgments block us from experiencing communion with what is.
“As the sage lives openly with apparent duality, he synthesizes the origin with the manifestations without forming an opinion. Living without judgment and in perfect oneness is what Lao-tzu invites his readers to do.” – Wayne Dyer.
It’s tricky – but believing on some level that things are for a reason.
So try embracing an attitude of acceptance and see if that moves the dial and helps lower expectations.
Bring in those trusted positive affirmations to get you through.
I have great news! We now have access to many tools in our bags, and the proven effectiveness of positive affirmations is clear.
Whenever I think of affirmations, I think of Abraham Hicks.
** I’ve gathered some of my favorite words from Abraham Hicks here.
A few from this piece include:
“A belief is only a thought I keep thinking.”
So, how can I change my thoughts? What repetitive thoughts am I having that are shaping my beliefs?
“All possibilities are available right now. How do you want to feel?”
How can I take responsibility for myself and how I want to feel? Have I gotten so lost in despair that I’ve forgotten how I want to feel?
“You are pre-paving your future experiences constantly… You are continually projecting your expectations into your future experiences.”
What are you projecting onto your future experiences? Are you willing to alter this ever so slightly?
“Be as happy as you want to be.”
Oh man, here it is again! That accountability piece.
But it’s true.
We can try on different positive affirmations for size. They may serve us well as we navigate this often uneven holiday terrain.
Self-care and self-compassion can become your left and right hand.
Self-care is most important right now, too. Especially if you’re dealing with a painfully difficult holiday.
For mothers, the pressure we place upon ourselves is enormous. And it would serve us well to add a bit of self-compassion.
Dr. Barbara Green shares her wisdom on the importance of taking a much-needed break for mothers here:
“I want to dispel the myth that it has to be a week-long retreat.
It’s about finding a moment and finding that heart space, headspace, mind space, and even physical space… in the context of 24/7 living. It’s about recognizing it, needing it, giving it value, and having the family understand its importance.
It also reinforces that everybody needs and deserves it.
I’m a big believer in baby steps. You can do a 5-minute meditation, and it will work if you’re using it. It will hit you at the moment, and you will bounce back again. It’s about refueling, restoring, renewing, and revitalizing.”
So take advantage of the opportunities to take care of yourself whenever possible.
Focus on fun! Access the vibration of joy.
I have to start with another Abraham Hicks quote for this one:
“Let your alignment (with Well-Being) be first and foremost, and let everything else be secondary. And not only will you have an eternally joyous journey, but everything you have ever imagined will flow effortlessly into your experience. There is nothing you cannot be or do or have—but your dominant intent is to be joyful. The doing and the having will come into alignment once you get that one down.”
I love this! Prioritize being in alignment with joy.
Think of at least one fun thing to do every day. And do it!
Make a favorite holiday beverage and sip it by the fire. (I’ll be sipping on Frangelico now and then… :-)
Make time to watch all of your favorite holiday movies this season. (For me – It’s The Holiday)
Organize a tea party with your closest girlfriends. (On my to-do list)
Listen to a favorite soundtrack while you wrap gifts. (I’ll be tuning into the Bridget Jones soundtrack and will be listening to Sarah MacLaughlin’s ‘The River’ on repeat)
Do all the things that bring you joy!
Key Considerations For Successfully Lowering Expectations:
It’s not a one-and-done thing.
We can incorporate these steps into our lives as we need, and we can be flexible in the way we embrace them.
It’s not about radical shifting. It’s a subtle process that can be layered and tweaked daily.
Alternative to utilizing these five steps:
If these steps aren’t resonating, another solution is to let it all go.
Verse 13 of the Tao Te Ching encourages us to let go of external focus and be ourselves. Here are some words from the blog:
Wrapping Up and My Experience With Lowering Expectations Over the Holidays:
I can say that I’ve had my share of doozies!
Growing up, in my family, we had these magical holidays. Although my parents worked full-time, they pulled off beautiful celebrations filled with family, seafood, and Italian cookies. I loved Christmas as a child. It was something I always looked forward to.
Then, at 30, I found myself as a divorced single mom having to face a future of holidays where my young daughter would spend Christmas every other year in Canada, far away from me.
Suddenly, the holiday season became unbearable.
I had to find a new way to experience it, and thankfully, by working with the ideas above, I did.
Over time, I could even look forward to this season again. I perceived it in a new way. When I was with my daughter, I enjoyed creating festive holidays similar to the ones I remembered as a child.
And when she was away, I became accustomed to viewing those years as a time for myself to regroup and enjoy quietude. I embraced acceptance and implemented self-care and self-compassion. Over time, I even added fun – by going away on trips with friends and doing getaway spa weekends.
Some unexpected delights:
We can feel relieved after changing our expectations for the holidays.
The pressure is off!
And we may find ourselves delightfully surprised by unexpected joyful outcomes. For instance:
- That last-minute holiday brunch with friends was epic!
- There were more moments of happiness than anticipated.
- A meaningful gift exchange happened with your partner or dear friend.
Or maybe you deepened your gratitude practice.
And you took the necessary breaks and watched your favorite movies.
Perhaps you caught up with friends and family you deeply enjoy – but often don’t get to see.
Even family celebrations went more smoothly than anticipated.
You did it!
And, now, guess what? You’re gazing out at a brand new year! Lowering expectations for this holiday season makes you feel hopeful and excited about new beginnings.
You can step aside from the busyness of the holiday ramp-up and appreciate the true beauty of the season: The quiet peacefulness underneath it all. And knowing that you’re blessed, loved, and right where you belong.