Untangle the Holidays and Keep It Simple

Children of addictsIt’s not impossible to untangle the holidays! In the 12 Step programs, we’re familiar with the acronym, Keep It Simple Stupid, or KISS. Keep It Simple is the idea that many addicts tend to suffer from over complicating our lives. We find a myriad of ways to do this. The important item for this article is how we can avoid making things ultra complicated during a time of year that gives many highly organized folks the heebie-jeebies.

There are dozens, probably hundreds of ways to free yourself of holiday stress. To untangle the holidays means to cut out knots, not add more string. I’ll keep it to a few. Remember that you do have control over how complicated you make your holiday season.

  • Reduce expectations: A lot of the stress we get during the holidays is due to expectations others have of us–and the reciprocal feelings we have of needing to live up to those expectations. It’s hard–incredibly hard–to say no to the people we love, even if they don’t seem to mind. We hate to disappoint people, and we often allow ourselves to be pulled about at the whim of other people’s needs. You can choose to explain why or how things need to be a certain way for you. However, once you do so, you absolutely don’t have to defend your decisions.
  • Don’t Over-Commit Yourself: Before automatically answering questions, train yourself to say, “Let me think about that”. Often people don’t give you a chance to say what you need to say. Someone who asks you, “What dish are you bringing to the company party?” is assuming that you’re going to the party. You may not want to get involved with a discussion as to why you’re not going. It’s perfectly fine to say, “I haven’t thought about it yet”. Is that a dodge or deflection? Yes. Is it a lie or disrespectful? No.
  • Learn to say no!: No more said about this topic–it’s an entry all to its own.
  • Keep going to meetings: The holiday season has been recognized as a potential rough patch for decades. Many meetings will be scheduled during the holiday season. Keep as close as possible to your regular meeting schedule, and if you feel glum, attend more.
  • Do the things that make you happy: Does putting up a Christmas tree make you happy? Go for it! Do you only put up a tree because you always did when your kids were little, and the kids are grown up now…but you still put the tree up even though doing so makes you feel worse? Don’t put up the tree. It’s utterly amazing how many things we as people do in an attempt to give honor and respect to times past, or to attempt to recapture good feeling that was present at a particular point in our lives. All we do is make ourselves sad.

On that point, I’ll end this post. Untangle the holidays. It’s ok to have a peaceful and joyous time of the year without martyring yourself in so doing.