Holidays are filled with expectations. Our emotional needs can easily get activated by Norman Rockwell style commercials that focus on an ideal, secure, perfectly behaved, well-dressed family who is totally contented. In these perfect holiday pictures, not only are needs for love, connection and closeness met but they are met immediately This holiday season. These expectations fall into three categories:
Expectations you have of yourself
Expectations of others
Expectations you feel others have of you
The first expectation we have, and it can be the toughest, is of ourselves. "I have too many demands on my time and my retired parents do need help and I 'should" be helping them even more, cooking a totally homemade meal, etc. " can one example of the thinking process of a tough self-expectation. Combined with time stress we can become anxious and upset about how much we can do this year. This sets us up to get upset and to focus on the problem instead of finding a new "solution".
We also have expectations of others. Often these are based on family dynamics and emotional needs such as being recognized with a Special gifts, receive Less negative attention from a family member or someone Stop comparing you to another family member. If you are aware of what you want and the emotional need behind it, you can decide a new way to deal with the need. Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol saw his Christmas future and realized its negative aspects. There are many ways to address these kinds of emotional needs once they are identified: journaling, direct comments to the family member, less time in volatile situations or greater stress management for you. Usually "less analysis paralysis" is helpful. Lowering your expectations of others may be appropriate too. If your expectations are negative ("I won't care so I don't get hurt") you might miss the chance to see a change.
Other people often have expectations of us that we are aware of. We may not be able to offer what the other person wants. Buying a new PlayStation 3 or traveling across the country may be too much for the family budget. You can start to learn new communication and attitudes to deal with the situation. Communicating respect with an "it's you and me against the finances" attitude can to help a couple or family feel closer.
People who feel hopeless about family relationships changing are often depressed. The hopeless is one symptom of depression. Realize your assumptions about a situation. How you think about your family relationships is very important. Generating some new possibilities comes from not buying the old assumptions. Then taking realistic action, with proper support, can be very powerful for everyone in the family.
Dealing with these expectations and taking the action that is possible, prevents anxiety, depression and stress. Loneliness, financial pressure, painful memories all influence our expectations so it is especially important to be aware of what we are thinking and feeling at this time. Needs are important and can be accepted as valid parts of who you are.
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