Does this sound familiar?
Your aunt, your mom or your mother-in-law loses it because you didn’t bring your dish. Disgusted and angry, she rants about a lack of appreciation throughout her lifetime. You and every other family member gets singled out for every bad thing you’ve ever done … “the year you did this!” … “the time you didn’t do that!”
Your friend is a a no show. The holidays are coming and going. You send a card, a few texts, make a call here and there. Where is she? Instead of feeling love, you feel and more mad and hurt.
You spend an enormous amount of time and energy (need I say money?) getting a special gift for someone. And from them you get socks. I have no problem with socks. I love socks. But socks, compared to say, a beautiful watch or fabulous cuff links or the hottest electronic gadget, well, socks?
Many people go into the holidays with expectations.
Expectations set us up for frustration, hurt and disappointment. It is normal for people to have expectations that they aren’t even conscious of. The expectation that this time so-and-so will act kind and supportive, instead of hostile and difficult. Or, the expectation that if you bake the perfect pie for your in-laws, they will thank you and be appreciative.
People often and life often fall short of our expectations.
Be aware of what your expectations are these holidays, with people, events and even the gifts you give and receive. With eyes wide open, and acceptance of what is and what isn’t, you might be able to enjoy the holidays more.
Cherilynn Veland, MSW, LCSW, is a counselor and coach based in Chicago. She has been helping individuals, couples and families for more than 20 years. She is author of Stop Giving It Away, a new book about developing healthier relationships with yourself and others. The Stop Giving It Away movement aims to stop the detrimental level of self-sacrifice in which many women live and work. For more insight, get a copy of Stop Giving It Away.