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Navigating the Holidays with Grace

Nov 30, 2023
April Price Coaching
Navigating the Holidays with Grace
32:08
 

The holidays can be a really stressful time of year. It seems like there are a million things to do, a million places to be, a million expectations to meet, and never enough time and energy and resources to do it all.

In today’s episode of the podcast, I’m sharing 6 practical tips to help you navigate the holidays more gracefully and to approach this time of year with more grace for yourself and the other people in your life.

If you want to create more connection and really enjoy the next five weeks, this episode will help you change your thoughts, your expectations, your to-do list, and your entire holiday experience.

If you’d like to coach with me next year, I have a few spots opening in January. Email me at [email protected] or sign up for a free coaching call to try coaching for yourself: https://www.aprilpricecoaching.com/call

Transcript

Welcome to the 100% Awesome Podcast with April Price. You might not know it, but every result in your life is 100% because of the thoughts you think. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome.

Hello podcast universe, welcome to episode 239 of the 100% Awesome Podcast. I'm April Price, and I want to welcome you to the podcast today and officially welcome you to the 2023 holiday season. How do you feel about that? Did you get like a shot of cortisol, an adrenaline like spike through your bloodstream? When I said that, did your stress level just go up or did you get a jolt of joy? Did you have like a sort of like little friction of anticipation? Or maybe for some of you did just like a blanket of heaviness, just, you know, land on you? Or maybe it was more like a mountain, right? It's not a blanket.

It's just like a mountain of heaviness, right? There's just so much when it comes to the holiday season that that phrase, that thought that those words entail. And, you know, all of those thoughts create feelings, right? And there's a lot going on. We have relationship problems. We have money issues. There's increased workloads. There's other people's expectations. There are religious obligations. There's comparison. And even just like like the specter of death and change that hangs over all of us all of the time.

And this sort of like creates an unrealistic pressure to make really good memories while your kids are young, or really good memories while we're together, because who knows when it's going to happen again and how much time we have together. And like, it can be a lot, right? And so for me, like just to be transparent, like as soon as I think like, okay, it's the holidays, I just have so much anxiety about how much there is to do. And also I have a lot of regret about not preparing sooner. Like it's always like, I mean, like April, like this is not a big surprise. It comes every year and yet somehow it catches you off guard, right? Like, why don't you start earlier? Why don't you save more? Why don't you prepare more? Like, it's just a nice mix for me of anxiety and shame and stress. Right? And then I get a little bit resentful because, like, why does that have to be all on me anyway, right? Why am I the only one that's worrying about any of this? Just had like a little mini fight with my husband yesterday where I said those exact words. How is this all on me? Right, so, let's talk today.

I really want to use this episode to help you navigate the upcoming holiday season with more grace. And I mean that in two ways. Yes, like more gracefully, which just like like maybe we can do it with a little less friction in our lives, but also more grace, which I hope means more feelings of kindness and love towards yourself and to have a more graceful experience. I'm what I'm really saying there is I want you to have a holiday with more of the feelings that you want, and less of the feelings that you don't want, right? And hopefully along the way, you can have more grace for yourself in this experience, more grace for others in their experience, the experience that they are choosing, and hopefully a whole lot more joy and less stress.

All right so, that's what we're going to try to do today. And we are going to try to navigate the holiday season with more grace. So first and foremost, the first thing that I want to offer you as a tool to be able to do that is to normalize the mess and the stress that comes with the holidays. So the truth is that the holiday season's like I just said, it's a lot. It's a lot to handle. It's a lot to do. And that is on top of our already full, busy lives.

And I think we do ourselves a disservice when we act like, well, this shouldn't be that big a deal, right? Like it's not supposed to be easy, right? You are not actually supposed to be more prepared, or more organized, or stronger, or more emotionally resilient, or have more money or anything else that you think you're not supposed to have any more of that than you do right now. You are exactly where you were supposed to be, your choices and your decisions and your action line and your thoughts have led you here. And it is okay, and we need to normalize where we are, normalize the mess of that, and normalize that the holidays are going to create an impact on our life.

Like as much as they create joy, they also create stress. And we don't have to pretend that that is not true. All right? You don't have to pretend that the holidays aren't supposed to make an impact on your emotional life. Like it's a lot, and that's okay. Really normalizing that fact that it's not easy to add all of this activity and expense and energy and all of those expectations. It's not easy to add all that and just have it feel like regular life, right? So, I really want to normalize just the stress and the mess of the holidays.

Your feelings make sense, whatever you're feeling, it is okay. Your thoughts about the upcoming holiday season and everything that you need to manage, or you think you need to manage those thoughts are creating your feelings. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't be having them. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be having those feelings. And it's going to be so much better, and it's going to feel so much less resistant. You're going to feel more grace about the entire experience. If you can let yourself feel what you are feeling.

If you can understand that my feelings are information and I just need to be receptive to that and to acknowledge what's happening, name your feelings. Instead of shaming yourself for them, name them. Feel them in your body. And then I think what can be really helpful is to then ask yourself what you need. It's like, just tell yourself the truth. This is a lot. What do I need? Do I need acknowledgement? Do I need encouragement? Do I need appreciation? Do I need quiet? Do I need grace? Do I need some understanding for myself? Do I need some patience with myself or other people? Like, my brain is trying to tell me something, and I think it's really helpful to just acknowledge the message and to feel the feeling.

Then to ask myself, what do I need? How can I give that to myself? How can I give myself acknowledgement or encouragement or appreciation or grace or whatever it is that that I need right now? And I think another really important part of normalizing the mess and the stress is to just normalize your process, normalize the way you do the holidays, like you do not have to actually do it gracefully. It can be a mess. And that is 100% fine, right? Because the fastest way into grace is like not making yourself wrong.

Like, we kind of get mad at ourselves for the way that we do it, and that always just makes it harder. So, for example, every year I do Christmas cards and I actually love to do them, and it's like really my favorite part of the holidays. But I never think about it on time. I never think about it until it's well into December, and then I have to end up paying extra for rush shipping and and like rush processing of the cards. Right. And it's fine. I used to get so mad at myself and be like, oh, big surprise, April, it's December and you haven't ordered cards.

But listen, I don't have to be mad at myself. Like, this is my process. This is how I do it. I think about it after December 1st, and I'm just going to pay extra for shipping and it's fine, right? Like. And I get my cards out the third week instead of the first week, and I can be mad about that, and I can belittle myself and I can beat myself up about that, or I can just do it the way that I do it and not be mad, right? I can just offer myself some grace and some acknowledgement that this is how I do it. This is my process. This is how I make this tradition happen in my life. And it's fine. In fact, it's better than fine. It's awesome. The way I do it is great. Okay, so I really want you to think about that. However you show up in the holidays, if you are the person who bought your gifts in July, or if you are the person who is out there on Christmas Eve buying the gifts and wrapping on Christmas Eve, that's another one that I always beat myself up for. Like, I don't wrap till the bitter end, right? But like, being mad at yourself won't make it better. And to like, really lean in and just acknowledge like this is how I do it.

This is how I've always done it. And it's okay like we'll just take away some of that friction, the friction that we create in resistance to ourself and the way that we do it. Okay, now the next one, actually the next two, I kind of went back and forth on which tool to sort of talk about first because there is some overlap. But the next thing that I want to offer you to help you navigate the holidays with more grace, is to acknowledge that you have limited time, energy and resources and then make your decisions accordingly. I think for too many of us, like we never acknowledged the truth of this, that we that we are humans and that we have limited time and energy and resources and then we don't, like, purposefully decide what we're going to do or what we're not going to do. We never make that decision ahead of time, and we never make it with like any acknowledgement of like the true amount of time, energy and resources we have. Like we cannot do all the things for all the people. Every holiday season, right?

And listen, they want you to people do I know I get it right. Your spouse has expectations. Your family has expectations. Your children have expectations. Probably your church congregation or your neighborhood or the school PTA. Everybody's got an expectation. Your in-laws have expectation, like everybody has expectations about the way that you should do the holidays, right? And not only that, but like we live at a time where there is the internet and there is social media, and you are being offered every single day a million different options and traditions and activities and gifts and moments and decorations and all the things that you can create and do and buy during the holidays.

And everywhere you look, somebody has some authority, some perfect way to do something and that you aren't doing it the right way and you and your loved ones are missing out. And you're like seeing that every time you look at your phone. All right. But here's the thing, right? You personally cannot do all those things. You are a human. And you can't do all the things for all the people. You don't have enough time, energy and resources to meet all those expectations or do all those things. And I think it can be so powerful to first acknowledge that.

That your limited time, energy and resources are not a problem. Right. The fact that we are all limited by our time and energy and resources does not make any of us inferior. And in fact, what it can make us is deliberate and intentional about our lives and our experiences. So when you can really validate that reality, then you can make some really important decisions like according to your values, like what is important to me. If I can't do all the things and I can't buy all the things and I can't attend all the events, then I have to decide what it is that is important to me.

I have to decide what I want to do. I know that is a radical idea to ask yourself what it is you actually want to do. What do you want to do and why? This is such an important question, and you can only ask it of yourself. If you ask everyone else, they will have ideas about what should be important to you. But like it doesn't matter. What matters is what is important to you. You have to decide what is the most important to you now. There is no wrong answer. Other people can have thoughts about it and that is okay.

But we have to decide what we want and then we have to approve of that decision. And then you can ask yourself, because I have limited time and energy and resources, what am I then going to say no to? Like these are the things that are important. I only have so much time, energy and resources now. Now what am I going to say no to? And if we don't make that acknowledgement about our limitations, then we end up saying yes to all of it and we end up like shooting ourselves to death, right? Like I don't have time and energy to do this thing, but I should like there expecting it, so I should like. It's such a cute idea and my family deserves the best and so I should. And if I can just make one suggestion, I really recommend that you decide all of these things ahead of time. Like in the moment. Like your brain is really bad at divvying out how much time and energy money you have. It just like forgets how much you actually have. And so it like overextend itself. So like the other day, I was sitting on the couch and I got an ad on my phone that popped up and it was like Taylor Swift Christmas paper.

And it was like, you know, I wish you a merry swiftness or something. And I had Taylor Swift. She was wearing sunglasses like it was freaking adorable. And I was like, oh my gosh, I need this paper, right? I need to wrap my girls gifts in this paper. It's so amazing. And of course, because it's custom and because it's Taylor Swift, like it was expensive, like like a six foot roll. It was like $35 or something. And I was like, oh, it'll be fine. I'll just I'll just get this thing right. And like, that's what I mean. Like in the moment, making that decision like is not a good idea because my brain is just like, oh yeah, it's not that big a deal. We have the resources for that. Or like, we can make that happen. And listen, maybe $35 wrapping paper isn't going to break the bank, but also it isn't how I decided to spend my resources when we started. And so, I'm not saying that you need to be really hard on yourself, and I'm not trying to take all the joy out of it and take all the impulse buying out of it. But there's so many things that we do on impulse thinking like, this will be good and this will be fun, and then it starts to add up, and then it isn't good and it isn't fun, and it does end up taking away our joy and adding to our stress.

Okay, so I really recommend that you choose on purpose ahead of time what is important to you, and then you have to be on the lookout all season long for rising expectations where you're like, oh, it'll be all right. We'll just add this thing, add this thing, and pretty soon, before you know it, we're just like drowning in obligations and expectations. Okay? So you need to have a plan for those rising expectations are going to come up. You're going to have a thought or people are going to ask you to do something, or the internet's going to suggest something, right? And so when my brain says, oh, maybe we should do this thing, I'd like to say, I'd love to do that, but it's not on the list this year right? And I can add it. After all the holidays are over, I can add it to a list for next year. But this year, no, we've already decided how we're going to spend our time and our energy and our resources.

Okay, so that leads us to number three. And there's a bit of overlap here, but the third thing that will help you navigate the holidays with more grace is to get really clear on what is your business and what is none of your business. Okay, so like decide what is your business ahead of time and have discussions about it with the people that you love. So, Byron Katie always says that there are three kinds of business, your business, other people's business, and God's business. And for the purpose of this podcast, I just want to suggest that in order to be able to navigate the holidays with more grace, we've really got to decide ahead of time. Okay, what is my business and let all the other business go? Okay, so for a moment, I want to talk to all of you that are moms especially. And one of the reasons why the holidays are so stressful is because you are trying to do more than your business.

And and I get it. I know that you think like, if I don't do it and I don't like cover all the bases and everybody else's business too, then no one else will. But I also want to offer you the thought that is okay, like things could go undone and you could just enjoy your holidays more. Okay, so I know that's hard for you, and I know that it's challenging. I want to talk about this idea of the invisible mental load, and I might have mentioned it here on the podcast before, but it's just this idea that many times women carry this invisible mental load, which is they're like calculating and thinking about and remembering all the details of what everybody needs and thinking about all the things for all the people, all the time.

And it's like this really heavy, invisible mental load. And the other day, my husband and I, we went on this trip to Colorado and we were near Vail, and he kept saying like, oh, remember when we took that trip? And we got Augie, that's our dog, and we stayed in that cabin up that hill. And remember when we came here with the kids and we rode our bikes from the top of this mountain down to the bottom, and I literally was like, I have no memory of any of this. And I just like, did we live completely different lives because he can remember all these roads and all these trails and all these cabins and you'd be like, no, remember, remember that cabin? It had this like fireplace and then it had this, like outdoor patio area.

And I was just like looking at him like, no, like, no. I have zero memory of any of this. Right. And I decided that it was because of this invisible mental load that every time we went on a trip, he was just like driving on the road to the destination. And I was in that car thinking about who needed to eat and who needed to pee, and what were we going to do as soon as we get there, and what groceries we had to buy so that I could make the dinner that night and everybody was going to be hungry before we got there. And so then even like the dog, like, I remember being worried about the dog peeing in the car and like, managing the fights between the kids and the snacks and, and like, figuring out when we needed to stop and eat snacks and like, all the needs and all the emotions and all the details, like I was thinking about all of that.

And that's why, like, have zero memory of the actual trip. Because somewhere along the line I had taken on the business of all of that. And I understand, like when your children are little in many ways, you have to. And be gentle and be graceful for yourself if you are in that position, but also be willing to ask for help and to start to divide up that labor and start to figure out like, what could just be my business and what business would would you? If you have a partner or a spouse, be willing to take on as well? So I think it would be really good and really helpful as you navigate these holidays to decide ahead of time, again, ahead of time, what are the things that we want to do this holiday season? What is going to be my business? What is going to be somebody else's business, and what are we going to let go of? So, I follow a therapist on Instagram named Kristen Hodson, and she recommends having a conversation with your partner and deciding all of this ahead of time for the holidays and discussing the division of labor.

Like who is purchasing the gifts, who is planning the meals, what traditions are important to us, and who is leading each one of those? And if we are doing something and no one is specifically assigned to be in charge of that, and no one wants to specifically be in charge, then listen, we don't need to do it, you know? And we don't have to just do it for the sake of doing it or because we've always done it. So, really think about not assuming. Just don't assume it of your partner and don't assume it of yourself. You need to have grace for yourself as well. And when you have that discussion, figure out, okay, what is your business? What is my business? And then can we get rid of all the rest of it? We have less chance of either one of us taking on invisible loads that that get carried around and create resentments. Okay, so really decide ahead of time what actually is my business. And that leads me to number four, which is more about emotional business. Right? So when I talk about staying in your business, one of the most important ways that you can do that, to have a more peaceful holiday season is to release everybody's like emotional experience, release that back to them, give it back to them.

It is not your job to manage anyone else's emotional experience and really think about intentionally letting people choose. Let your children choose. Let your parents choose. Let your in-laws choose. Let your neighbors choose. Let everybody choose how they want to feel this holiday season. And don't put yourself in charge of managing that. It's incredibly stressful because you have no control over how other people feel, and so it's really giving yourself a job that you can't do. And that is so stressful. You aren't in charge of other people's emotions. You are not in charge of making sure everyone is happy, and everybody is content and everybody gets their expectations met. The holidays are just like any other time of year and that it's 50/50, and everyone still gets to choose how they're feeling about everything in every given moment.

And I promise you, someone is always going to be unhappy and it is none of your business. If they are okay, they shouldn't be happy. If they aren't, they shouldn't be grateful. They shouldn't be kind or cheerful or helpful or understanding or anything else you think they should be. If they aren't, if they are choosing something else, that is what they should be choosing. They are humans and their brain are choosing thoughts and creating emotions for them, and you are never in charge of that. So I really want to offer you. This is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself during the holidays, to really release yourself from the burden of managing everybody else's experience.

Just let them choose and come back to what you can control, which is always only what you think and what you do. It can be really helpful. Sometimes you just tell yourself they are allowed to be and then fill in the blank whatever they are. I say to myself all the time, they're supposed to be and that's that's a big leap. I know, because you feel like they're not supposed to be unhappy, but they for sure are because they chose it. So they're supposed to be. But if you can't get to that, you can just say they are allowed to be, and that can really release you of the burden like they are allowed to choose that whatever it is that they are feeling.

Okay. Number five, the fifth thing that I want you to remember, to help you just navigate the holidays with more grace is just the idea that you don't need everything you think you need. You don't need a lot of time and money and energy for the best parts of the holidays. All you need to do is be there. Like what we're all looking for during the holidays is a feeling. That feeling of connection, that feeling of love, that feeling of like home. And that is most easily created when you can be present. For whatever emotional experience is currently going on. To just be there, experiencing your life, to just be there, experiencing your loved ones, to just be there, experiencing whatever emotion is inside of you. So, many times we're just like five steps ahead. Like we are not present. We're like thinking about the thing that's coming up. We're thinking about, oh, and then I got to do this, and then I got to do this. And then there's this thing, and there's this thing and and we're never like in the present moment.

And I really want to give you this thought. It's three words now. Here. This. If you can just come back to that phrase over and over again. Now hear this. Bring yourself back now to the here, to the present, to this. And if you have a hard time being in the present and you're in your brain just wants to skip forward, like really dial into your senses. Your senses are always present. So, you can just ask yourself when something I see, what something I hear, what's something I smell, what's something I taste, what's something I can feel like you just bring yourself back into the present. Your attention is the most precious gift you have to give anyone in your life. It's all you really have to give. Everything else is borrowed, right? And everything else is temporary. But your attention is all you have to give and it is precious.

I've had a couple experiences recently. One at the beginning of October, my son came up to visit and like we spent the weekend like doing stuff and watching movies and working out and doing all this stuff. And then like, right as he was leaving to go back home, we had this really sweet, intimate conversation about what was really going on for me. And what was going on for him, and it was so needed. And afterwards I just reflected on like how we kind of like, stalled all weekend before we got to that conversation and we were just like busy and distracted all weekend until we got to like the most important thing. And I'm so glad we got it and that we didn't just, like, rush through the goodbye, but that we had that moment to really connect.

And then this summer, when my daughter was getting married the week before, I had gone up and we did a bridal shower for her, and I was helping my other daughter move into a new apartment. And there was just like, there were a million things to do to like, prepare for the wedding, do the bridal shower, move. My other daughter in, we were like running around. We're like buying all the stuff. We're like loading the car, unloading the car like a million activities. And finally, like the night before I was supposed to drive home, we were sitting in the car in the in the parking lot of her apartment, and she just, like, opened up to me and, like, shared what was on her heart. It was just like the dam broke and like this thing that she'd been like, holding on to all weekend. Like she finally, we finally had this quiet moment and she was able to, like, open up and share and like, everything we did that weekend, I realized as I was driving home, I was like, that was the only thing that needed to happen was that discussion. Was that conversation like all the rest of it? Yes, it was good. And yes, it was an important part of our lives. But like if everything else had to go away, that one conversation would have been the thing that would have been the thing that needed to happen. And as I think about both of these things, like they both just required quiet, they both required me to stop. They both required me to stop being distracted, moving to the next thing, crossing things off the list, just entertaining ourselves.

And it just required me to be still and to be present and look at my children in the eye and ask them what was going on for them. And so I really want to remind you of that, that the most important things. I know this will sound trite, but they aren't things they aren't going to be. Even the things you do and the like activities, it's going to be these really quiet, tender moments where you make a connection, where you look them in the eye, where you find out what's on their heart and mind.

Did I make a space for that? Did I make room for the most important stuff in my life? And to go back to what I was saying before. When we decide I have limited time and energy and resources and I want to make space for these most important things, then it makes it so much easier to say no to so much of the like, nonsense and the fluff and the things that don't matter. And can I just say to like when you find yourself like rushing and moving to the next thing, don't get mad at yourself.

Don't like beat yourself up. That's not why I'm sharing it. When you notice that all you want to do is just give yourself a gentle invitation to come back. And you can even ask it like in a polite question. Would you be willing to come back to the present? Would you be willing to come back to your breath? Would you be willing to come back to this moment to notice, you know, their eyes and their hair and the whirl of their ear? Would you be willing to come back and notice what's happening right now? Don't have to be mad at yourself.

You don't have to be frustrated or impatient with yourself. Like this is what brains do. And listen, we have a lot of habits. We have a lot of expectations. There's a lot going on. Grace means to just, like, gently bring yourself back. Invite yourself back into your present. Finally, the last thing that I want to give you is just a question. And all through the holiday season, you're probably your brain is going to probably wake up. And the first question it's going to ask is like, what do you need to do today? What have you not done? What do you need to do today? And I want you to just change that question and ask yourself, what do I want to feel today? That really is why we're doing all the things anyway.

That's why our brain gives us a list, because it's sure that if we could get everything done on the list, then we're going to feel good. But what actually happens is we just end up like making the list longer. We never truly feel done. We never truly like that. Anxiety never really goes away until I'm intentionally asking myself, wait a minute. Instead of what do I need to do? Ask myself, how do I want to feel? What do I want to feel? What is it that I want to feel today? And what would I need to think to feel that way?

This question can change your holiday season. In the end, it isn't about what you do. It's how you feel along the way. Okay, my friends, that's what I have for you today. Normalize the mess and the stress. Acknowledge that you have limited time, energy, and resources and make the decisions about how you're going to spend yours ahead of time. Get really clear on what is your business and let go of everything else, including everyone else's emotional experience. Give that back to them and remember that what you really want is a feeling.

Be present for all of it. That is the way to have an amazing holiday season. And that, my friends, is 100% awesome. I love you for listening and I'll see you next week.

Thanks so much for joining me on the podcast today. If you're serious about changing your life, you first have to change your mind. And the best way to do that is through coaching. I work with my clients one on one to help them change their thoughts and their feelings about themselves, their lives, and their challenges so that they can live a life they love. If you'd like to work with me one on one, you can learn more and schedule a free call to try coaching for yourself at Aprilpricecoaching.com

 

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