For many of us, the holiday season is filled with judgment, of ourselves and others. And how does that feel? When we’re judging ourselves, we may feel guilty, ashamed, stupid, not good enough, like a failure ...
And when we’re judging others, how do we feel? Superior, angry, victimized, misunderstood, undervalued, humiliated, vengeful ...
Those energies really capture the spirit of the holidays, don’t they?
So, would you be willing to stop using the holidays in a way that we’ve been culturally trained to? Would you be willing to consider — and surrender — five of the top ways we judge ourselves and others at this time of year?
Letting go of these habits of judgment will open the door to a more peaceful, authentic and genuinely joyful holiday season.
1. We judge ourselves for not being able to be in two (or three or 12) places at one time.
Do you get upset because spending the holidays with your in-laws means you can’t be with your own family? Or do you drive halfway across the state, so you can spend time with everybody on the big day? And what if your family is scattered all over the globe? Do you feel guilty when you visit Aunt Ida, because that means you can’t see Grandpa Ned?
The Shift: Would you be willing to admit that you can’t be everywhere at once? Would you be willing to choose quality over quantity? And here’s a crazy idea: would you be willing to choose where you go based on what will bring you joy this year?
2. We judge stores for the way they do business during the holidays.
Do you hate it when stores put out holiday merchandise before Thanksgiving, or even before Halloween?! Do you get angry when stores don’t have enough parking ... or enough cashiers ... or enough fitting rooms ... or enough of whatever the must-have toy is this year?
The Shift: Would you be willing to soften that anger and irritation and maybe even tell yourself a different, lighter-feeling story? Would you be willing to tell yourself that store owners and employees are doing the best they know how — and if they knew better, they’d do better? Would you be willing to cut them some slack — if not for their sake, then for the sake of your blood pressure and your sanity?
3. We judge ourselves around money.
Have you ever racked up credit card debt because of your holiday gift-giving habit? Or have you bullied yourself for being cheap because you didn’t spend as much on gifts as other people did?
The Shift: Whether we have lots of money or not, many of us use the holidays as a way to beat ourselves up over finances. We keep score (and even compete) when it comes to gift-giving ... and parties, holiday decorations, holiday attire ... So, would you be willing to stop paying attention to what everyone else does or doesn’t do, and simply do what feels joyful and authentic and comfortable for you?
4. We judge others for the gifts they give us.
When someone gives you a gift you hate (or doesn’t give you a gift at all) how do you react? Do you feel offended? Hurt? Sad? Angry?
The Shift: Somewhere along the line, many of us transformed the gifts we've received into a test of whether someone does or doesn’t care about (or understand) us. Would you be willing to take all that pressure off of gifts — and off of the people in your life who give you gifts? You’ll feel a whole lot better…
5. We judge ourselves for being wherever and however we are.
If we’re alone, we may judge that as wrong and make ourselves feel lonely and unwanted during the holidays. Or, if we’re invited to a whole bunch of parties, we may judge ourselves for not having enough energy to attend all of them — or enough time to cook something from scratch to bring to all of them. If someone precious to us has passed away, we may judge ourselves for feeling sad at this time of year (or judge that person for leaving us ... or both).
The Shift: For the sake of your mental, physical, and emotional health, would you be willing to make peace with your life, exactly as it is right now? And would you be willing to do something loving and nurturing for you during this holiday season?
Let’s skip the physical and emotional hangover as we start the New Year!