HSP: what are your plans for Christmas and New Year’s eve?

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As a coach for highly sensitive people lots of stories about Christmas and New Year’s eve come my way. Most of the highly sensitive people I speak rather spend their time quietly with a few friends or in some situations only with their spouse, love relationship and kids in stead of packing stuff, organizing big dinners and traveling from one family to another with two days. (Christmas) And as for New Year’s eve, in the Netherlands it is the tradition to set of fireworks up until late, go out until late and the next morning you possibly catch yourself with a hangover and a huge lack of energy. This feeling of being totally wasted could go on for days so the people I speak to ask themselves: 

‘What do I want to do, how shall I organize this and most importantly, how will I communicate this to my spouse or family?’ 

Yesterday I gave a lecture about high sensitivity with professional and personal relationships. This same topic arose and conclusion was that it is most important to listen and finally act upon your own needs. The difficulty lies in the fact that we are so accostumed to do what others want and expect from us. (or read: to do what the group/family wants) In many cultures it is a tradition to spend time with your loved ones during these festive days, but all I hear about is lots of family stress. I understand it is very hard to break with family and cultural traditions just for your own sake. 

How wonderful it would be if we could choose for what we most want to do during these days? Before having this as an option in mind, one needs to tackle lots of emotions. Emotions such as guilt, anger or even family member blaming you for not coming to the gathering. Year in, year out, you feel horrible, and perhaps this comment rings a bell ‘this year I will stay at home’, but to find yourself each year in homes of other family’s or family at your place, because the motivation to choose for what you want somehow disappears. Days after the social activities you feel exhausted of all the conversations, impulses and possibly excessive amounts of food. 

What if, after years of struggling, with the December month turning around the corner, you consider, just slightly consider to do what you want. What ideas would pop up? With whom would you spend these festive days? How will you go about communicating this to your family? Think about it, it could definitely free your mind and body and take you up to a higher level of excepting and acting up to your own needs. The positive effect about this is when you feel well and good about yourself you could mean much more to others. This doesn’t only go up for festive days, it’s a daily positive life attitude. Many highly sensitive people regard doing something for themselves as ‘egoistic’. No way, it is super healthy to put your own needs first and in my view of life this naturally goes with healthy relationships, either professionally or personally. 

As a Chinese born in the Netherlands I never had a relationship with Christmas. These days were focussed on work and serving others Chinese food from out of the restaurant of my parents. And as for New Year’s eve, this meant being with lots of Chinese family living in the Netherlands, most of them had restaurants so lots of good food was served. Whole evening went to spending time with cousins and grown-ups talking and playing games. Chinese tradition of setting of fireworks did go hand in hand with Dutch culture’s fireworks at 0.00am 1st of January with a huge difference, Chinese fireworks was all about banging our ears of whereas most Dutch fireworks were about beautiful colors and figures whirling up into the sky. 

Somehow I feel lucky to not have any traditions in relationship to Christmas, it seemingly makes it easier to choose for what we want to do. But even so there are some family expectations to tackle. Even without a religious link to it family wonders what we will be doing around that time of year. Or perhaps it’s even more so the case that it’s more about me, somehow I feel compelled to share what we will do, in other words, we would like to spend time here at home in stead of visiting you, you and you. And as for New Year’s eve, to be honest, I have never been into fireworks. This year we decided upon spending time somewhere where it is fireworks free. Hmmm..this is quite a challenge, but we will find a place. I am sure of that. Where there is a will, there is a way. 

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