First off, Congratulations! You have officially survived the Holidays. I’m curious….did you do any thriving?
Maybe you were able to KISS your way through?
You accepted and embraced your annoying alcoholic brother in law (and were grateful that you don’t have to go home with him)? Did you take some time for self-care along the way? Now I know that you laughed at least once (or twice 😉), right?
Then congratulations are in order 🎉 You are taking some great new skills with you into 2018!
OK, so speaking of this transition from 2017 to 2018. Do you get caught up in the Hoopla around making resolutions? What is it about this time of year that gets us all wound up about making all kinds of changes, when we know damn well that we are just going to be beating ourselves up before we turn the calendar over to February 😳
I noticed that I was feeling totally overwhelmed yesterday morning as we were getting ready to take a family trip to the grocery store. When I stopped and took a moment (‘cause when I start to feel anxious and overwhelmed, I know that’s my cue to take a moment and check in with my Wise Mind) I had a light bulb moment! A friend had mentioned a book about detoxing and I had gotten it on my Kindle and started looking at recipes. As I was making my grocery list I was adding a shit ton of ingredients fo several of the recipes. Light bulb?
I was attempting to do “all the things” rather than just pick one (maybe two) recipes to test out.
How many times have you let Anxiety talk you into buying into the crazy notion that you can change “all the things” all at the same time? We make resolutions about our health (I’m going to eat better, go to they gym, get more sleep), our relationships (I’m going to stop yelling at my kids, have more sex with my husband, spend more quality family time), and our work life “balance” (I’m going to get my notes done by the end of each day, not be distracted by social media, set up better systems).
What happens next?
We get overwhelmed, throw up our hands, assume that we are a flawed human being, and spend the rest of the winter months back in survival mode and being grouchy and irritable with ourselves and our loved ones. We may even spend our time making excuses and blaming.
Anxiety loves this shit!
It revels in your misery because when you are feeling (and believing those feelings to be real) grouchy and irritable and believing the thought that you are a “failure” then Anxiety gets you all to itself. (OK, that may not be 100% true, because sometimes Anxiety will share you with it’s buddy Depression, especially this time of year 😔).
Anxiety loves to keep you stuck in old behavior patterns and when you buy into all of the insanity of resolutions and even goal setting this time of year, then you are just playing right into Anxiety's trap!
Now I know you are probably thinking, “What do you mean don’t set any goals? I have to have something to keep me going and motivated!” Please, hear me out.
Setting goals and intentions are great WHEN we do them mindfully. First off, pick one, maybe two new goals. All the research on habit change shows that human beings suck at changing more than one thing at a time.
Don’t expect yourself to be a superhuman, stick to whole-assing one new habit.
Once you pick the ONE goal or intention, then clearly define it. Look back at the examples of goals that I used a few paragraphs above. “Get more sleep” or “Not be distracted by social media”, or even “Have more sex with my husband” are just vague notions until you define them.
So let’s use one of these as an example so you can see what I am talking about. Of course I am going to pick that one that gets the most attention: “Have more sex with my husband” 😜.
Now, if I want a chance in hell of this being successful, then I have to spend a little time being mindful of a few things. First, I have to define my “Why?”. Why would I want to have more sex with my husband?
So what might seem like the obvious answer, “I like having sex with my husband”, is not going to cut it here. You have to go deeper. Why do I like having sex with my husband?
Now I am not going to go into all of the kinky details (I know you are disappointed 😜) because the deeper why has more to do with connection. Having more sex with my husband means taking the same 24 hours that I had available yesterday and deciding to reassign more of that time to spending time in an activity that connects me to the person that I love.
Damn! That’s some deep shit there….
Are you still with me? Now keep in mind that I am a perimenopausal woman who, on most days, would rather eat a cookie than put forth the effort to have sex.
This goal is going to take some work. Am I willing to put forth the effort? Am I willing to talk back to the excuses? Am I willing to do what it takes even when I “don’t feel like it”?
These are tough questions and when we are making resolutions and setting goals all willy nilly because that is what we are “supposed to do” this time year. Well, yeah, can you see how that just sets us up for failure? 🤔
So as you finish up this last day of 2017 and head into 2018, my suggestion is to choose one goal, and ask yourself “Why?”.
If I were to actually choose “Have more sex with my husband” as my goal this year (You are just dying to know if that is my actual goal, aren’t you? 😜) I would use that “Why” as my touch stone every time I didn’t feel like it, was making an excuse for myself, and didn’t want to make the effort.
I would also plan out some details that would support me along the way.
Changing our behavior and reaching our goals takes more than just saying. "I am going to do this thing." It takes planning and the willingness to make the effort whether you feel like it or not.
Using my example, I would consider times that might make it easier to be successful. This might mean thinking outside the box like, “Maybe I could wake him up in the middle of the night since we both get up to pee a bazillion times” or “let’s turn off our devices more often when our daughter goes to visit Gramma”.
Remember that Anxiety and it’s buddy Depression will come up with lots of excuses because they don’t want things to change. They think they are protecting you from getting your feelings hurt (“What if he rejects me?”) AND they don’t know how strong and determined you can me.
Maybe you don’t either…..yet 😉
Drop me a line and let me know if you are saying "Fuck Resolutions" this year or if you are going to choose one and go deep!
So we are just about to the half way mark and I really want to know: Have you been keeping it simple and are you having any fun?
I have to talk to my Anxiety daily about scaling back and keeping focused on what’s really important this holiday season and the conversations are paying off.
Last evening we got caught in a clusterfuck of traffic heading to the Kris Kringle parade and before Anxiety could convince me to stay stuck, I chose to accept the situation and even embrace it! My daughter and I jumped out of the car (leaving my husband/chauffer to deal with the traffic) and got to the corner just as the first band was marching by. I even got a bonus for my effort as I stood behind a police car that was emitting a nice warm exhaust to warm my cold legs 😊
Even before we left for the parade I had a moment where things were getting complicated and I chose to KISS it! Friday evening traffic sucks on a regular Friday, but add another detour (we already have one and the second one was added when a trash truck tangled with the structural integrity of a bridge on the best alternative route we had 😳).
Our original plan included eating dinner in town. When I thought about KISSing dinner out good-bye my Anxiety jumped in with how disappointed my family might be. I KISSed them anyway and we ate leftovers AND the bonus was that my daughter actually thought it was “cool” that we were leaving out house after dinner to go on an adventure! It’s all about the perspective 😊
Today I joined my daughter outside to walk in the winter wonderland and even built a miniature version of Frosty. I could have made excuses using all of the things on my “To Do” list AND I chose to have fun instead. How are your conversations with Anxiety going?
In the spirt of keeping it simple, focusing on self-care, acceptance, lowering expectations, and filling the holidays with humor, I’m am going to keep it short and sweet today:
Go play in the snow, put on some Christmas music (or whatever music floats your boat), watch a parade (or participate in one!), watch silly movies on the Hallmark Channel, sit in front of the fire drinking your favorite warm beverage, discover a new holiday tradition, or participate in any number of holiday “opportunities” that bring you JOY and put you in a position to answer the question of “Are we having fun yet?” with a resounding “Hell Yes!" 😍😘
How are you doing? We are 1/4 through dealing with the Holiday Hoopla and I know that you are hanging in there 😍 You and Anxiety have worked out the driving arrangements and you are enjoying your role as the designated driver 👍
Thanks so much to all of you who reached out and confirmed my suspicions that many of our Anxious Allies tend to roll toward the Introvert side of the equation🤩 Today I want to focus on more ways you can Keep It Simple (the best way to keep Anxiety from grabbing your wheel AND honor your Introverted nature) so that you can find more recharge time and actually enjoy the Holidays 😘
So last year around this time my daughter begged me to get one of those Gingerbread House building kits. I am not what you might call “crafty” and this was not on my "list of things to do" AND she wore me down. We had done one the year before and she was insistent that she wanted to do another one. I gave in and we brought it home and she went to work. About 3/4 of the way through I noticed that she wasn’t looking so good. She had been eating about as many of the “blocks” (cookies) as she had been using to build the house. I stepped up my game in the builder's assistant role and we managed to finish it off, but she was not a happy camper. The “bug” that was going around school had landed 🤢
Sound familiar? We make all of these grand plans for how the holidays are going to be jam packed with decorating and shopping and parties and all around Hoopla and we just end up stressing ourselves into sickness, which sends us scrambling to figure out Plan B😳 (oh, and Anxiety loves to stand on the side and say shit like "See I told you! You can't handle all of this. This is a nightmare. Everyone will be disappointed and it's all your fault!").
Yeah, remember Anxiety is always looking for ways to use our insecurities against us 😠. This time of year it is even more important to step up our self care game, lower our expectations, accept whatever is actually happening (vs. getting stuck in what we expect to be happening) and to use humor to keep Anxiety from being able to use our content to send us careening off track!
Well, the kind of funny ending to the story is that somehow my daughter ended up associating the smell of the Gingerbread House with sickness and she banished it! We attempted to put it upstairs near the tree and she was having none of it, so outside it went! Just like that her obsession with Gingerbread Houses was over and out 😬
Now if my daughter were some sort of Frank Lloyd Wright in the Gingerbread House world, we would figure out how to move past her avoidance of gingerbread house smells; however, lucky for me, she is not AND our lives are simpler this year. That’s why this “recipe” is perfect for our family:
Now I want to be crystal clear here, I am not telling you to throw out all the fun and traditions and sit at home in your cave until January 2nd 😳. I am suggesting that you choose to focus on the activities of the season that speak to you, not the ones that you think you "should" do or are "supposed to do". Step back, take inventory, and then make a plan (that you write in pencil, 'cause you want to be flexible like that 😉) for focusing on what is really important to you!
I was sharing this concept with a client this week and she shared that she had enjoyed Christmas Day last year as it was spent just with her husband and kids without all of the rushing around to be with extended family (they did that on other days) AND she didn't put pressure on herself to host and therefore took the pressure off of herself to put out the perfect spread!
Just as quickly as I had seen her light up as we talked about what she actually wanted to do (make her favorite meal), I watched her energy drop as she "shoulded" on herself by feeling obligated to invite extended family this year 😔
How did we transform this? By deciding that most of the day (and the meal) would be for she and her husband and kids AND that extended family would be invited for dessert 🤔😍🎉
Keeping it simple can still mean enjoying lots of our favorite traditions, we just have to focus on what they are and be creative in how they fit together to create those "win-win" situations that we all love to be part of 😍
How are you K.I.S.S.in' it this season? Share in the comments 😍😘
The voice behind Auntie Anxiety is Lynn Dutrow, Courage Coach and Counselor