Last year, I used the following process to help me find a bit of ease when I was feeling overwhelmed by all the obligations, pressures and self-imposed ‘shoulds’ of the holidays. You can read the original post here.
Well, I’m back in the place of overwhelm again. We leave for Kansas tomorrow (tomorrow!) and I have 20 thousand things that still need to be done before I leave.
So, here I am again, making a holiday-pressure-filled list. Want to play along?
Step 1: Make a pressure-filled list:
Get out a piece of scratch paper and list everything (yes, everything!) you feel pressured by or think you should/want/need to be doing over the next few days. Give yourself no more than 2-3 minutes to make this list.
Here’s an abbreviated version of mine (ignore the letters for now):
- all the gift-gathering and presenteering that I’ve, again, put off to the last minute. Of course. Because that’s how I roll. (C)
- pack (pack, pack, pack). Make certain I remember all the extra stuff I’m taking home – like the book for my brother, the language program for my dad, the extra-special, extra-yummy coffee for my mom. And, it’s going to be considerably colder there than here so… where, oh where, are all my warm clothes? (B)
- go to the Saturday Market in hopes of finishing Item #1 and finding the perfect, meaningful gift for P. (B/C)
- clean the house – I hate coming home to a dirty house after a trip away. (B)
- do my morning self-care ritual/meditation – without which, everything becomes so much more difficult. THIS is primary. (A)
- write, edit, post my (this) newsletter. (A/B)
- a much, much dreaded application that has to be finished before I leave – or I will miss the deadline. (C)
- backing up my hard-drive – something that has been on my to-do list for oh, 6 months! (C)
Alright, got your list? Let’s move on to Step 2.
Just look at your list. How does it feel to actually see all the stuff you are supposed to be doing?
For me, like last year, just writing the list was a huge relief. I now know what needs to be done and can perhaps take the necessary steps that will allow me to board the plane filled with a bit more ease.
Step 3: Categorize the list.
Read over your list one item at a time and notice what happens in your heart as you read it. Does your heart lift a bit? Or, does it sink? Maybe there isn’t really any reaction at all.
Heart too far fetched? Well, maybe you notice a sense of lightness or relaxation in your body when reading some. Perhaps more tension and heaviness with others.
As you read the list, place an A by the items that feel lighter, a B by the neutral ones and a C by the heavy items.
Do this part quickly. Just read the item, notice your body, jot down a A, B or C and move on. Your first instinct is right on.
And, don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you to not do the things you put a C beside. That’s not the point of this exercise. The point is to just check in and see what your body has to say on these matters.
If you are curious how this step went for me, take a look at the letters at the end of each item in the list above.
Anything odd or surprising happen looking at your list in this way?
Looking at my list, I was dismayed by the number of Cs. It seems that right now there are a lot of things that I just really don’t want to be doing.
So, what do you do with this information?
Here are my suggestions (the same as last year):
- Treat the list lightly. The point is to give you a sense of where your priorities really are, based on your heart vs external or internal pressures. This is loving and taking care of *you* during the holidays. This is finding balance during pressure filled times.
- Give yourself permission to not do one of the things that you rated B or C. Assuming you can do this in a way that feels safe and comfortable, of course.
- Give yourself permission to devote extra time to one of the heart lifting items on your list. If there were no As, consider making it a priority to do something non-holiday related that does nourish and support you (whether that is exercise, reading, movies, tea with a close friend, etc).
The key is to give yourself permission.
- To do what you want to do, yes.
- To not do the things you don’t want to do, yes.
- Also, to *do* the things you’d rather not as well.
Because, it’s the holidays. And, most likely, we are going to be doing some things we don’t want.
For instance, there are a lot of Cs on my list.
And yet, I know that a few of them at least are important and will make things easier for me later (like cleaning the house before we leave).
Sometimes, for me anyway, it is a matter of simply putting my head down and plowing through the hard and the I-don’t-want-to’s.
When in this place, the important thing for me is to stay connected to both:
a) my innate dread of the task and how that feels in my body and
b) how doing the task does meet some other, perhaps even deeper, need – like my need for order / cleanliness or to contribute to the happiness of others through gift-giving.
What surprised you about your list? What things are you going to give yourself permission to do or not do? I’d love to hear about them.
And, I wish you a very Merry Christmas (if you celebrate) and a New Year filled with ease and wonder. Yes, ease. And, wonder. 🙂