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Holiday Stress is All in Our Heads

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Change Your Attitude To End Holiday Stress

A few weeks ago, I was complaining that I had a little black cloud following me around. An unexpected flat tire, a cut finger that took me to the emergency room, and on and on….

But actually, that  little black cloud was not over me. Rather, it resides inside me.  It’s so true, and it speaks to one of the most powerful and important Adlerian principles, one of human beings’ most terrific qualities, and one that we under-utilize: our ability to be “creative.”

By creative, I don’t mean you need to be a talented painter or dance like Martha Graham.   What I mean is that while we may not be able to change our situation,  we can always choose our attitude about our situation. We decide!

When a car cuts me off, I can get angry or think: “Boy, he must be rushing somewhere important. Maybe he is rushing to the hospital because his wife went into labour!”  Or “It’s a good thing he cut me off, I am good defensive driver – someone else might have been in a collision!”

It goes to follow then that our life stresses are really perceptions, and therefore self-created.   We choose to respond with a stress reaction to things.   We could choose not to! Imagine – stress free living!  It’s all in your head!  If you want a much more persuasive argument, try reading Victor Frankl Man’s Search For Meaning.  His book explores this topic and was written while he was in interned in a Nazi prison camp.  If human creativity is possible under those conditions, then it can certainly be accomplished during the holidays, for Pete’s sake!

So I have decided to dry up my black cloud and fully enjoy my holiday.  I refuse – absolutely refuse  – to be anything but happy and joyful.  How about you?

Repeat after me:

  • I refuse to let a full parking lot cost me my happiness – I will wait patiently and listen to music.
  • I refuse to panic over not finding the perfect present – I trust anyone receiving a gift from me will receive whatever they get in gratitude. And if they don’t – shame on them!
  • I refuse to freak out over the state of my house – I will appreciate that I actually have a roof over my head and that I am blessed with friends who will visit me!

Happy holidays, everyone!

About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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One Response to “Holiday Stress is All in Our Heads”

  1. Sarah

    Hi Alyson,
    I have a long winded question to ask you concerning my 5 1/2 year old son. He’s the oldest of three (3 year old brother and 18 month old sister). He is a wonderful, creative boy who likes things to go his way. We are (and have been for a long time) having great difficulty with getting him to cooperate when we need to get somewhere (i.e., school for him) or get home from somewhere (i.e., school, church, a birthday party or someone’s house for a playdate or grandma’s, etc.) We have tried the calm manner, getting down to his eye level and trying to reason with him. I have tried the tactic of asking if he can walk beside me or does he need to hold my hand. I have tried waiting in the van with the other children (up to 15 minutes) with him left in the house happily playing with no care at all (even though he knows we are outside). I always give him a 5 minute warning that we need to leave but if he’s not interested he will run away or say he doesn’t want to go (this can even be when he’s at home and I’m trying to get him out the door to his friend’s house for a birthday party!) I have told him I refuse to chase him but at times that’s difficult (i.e., when he’s at school and runs across the playground and keeps running away as I calmly walk towards him) as I have 2 other children that have needs too and I need to get them home for naps, or they’re cold and want to get home. At times, he will get angry with me (when walking somewhere as he complains that he doesn’t like walking) and will hurl insults at me and usually does the passive aggressive thing and plunks himself down in a snowbank and refuses to move or moves at an especially slow snail’s pace. Now this is when it gets difficult as I am pushing a stroller and have my 3 year old walking and it’s almost impossible for me to make him hold my hand. When I do try to have him hold my hand or the stroller (offering him a choice of walking beside me or holding on to me) he will become limp and refuses to move. The amount of attention (especially negative attention) he receives is unbelievable and I’m fully aware of that. The latest tactic I tried yesterday was that I explained that if he was able to keep up with us as a family he could spend time with us as a family when we got home (we were walking home from school) and that if he was unable to keep up with us he was choosing to spend time alone in his room. Thankfully he kept up with us (with endless complaining and whining) but I can’t always use that consequence because we’re not always going somewhere where we will immediately be doing something as a family. We have even tried the family meeting format but he just comes up with unacceptable (i.e., “just leave me to walk home alone”) and ridiculous ideas for solutions to this problem. I know he is falling into the “power” goal of misbehaviour and so we have worked at giving him more responsibility and choices. Please help us. I am at a great loss of what to do. Thank you.


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