How to Ruin the Holidays
1. Compare and complain. For example, if you go home to a small town you can focus on how nothing is as exciting or interesting as Shanghai (and tell everyone about it). If you stay in Shanghai for the holidays, you can complain about how much better the holidays are at home.
2. Take everything personally. The holidays bring out a lot of emotions and we can easily fall into a defensive pattern, reacting to everything as if it’s targeting us. It is easy to take things out of context or blow them out of proportion.
3. Criticize others/things because they are different. For example, telling your loved ones and friends back home all the things that are wrong with your home country or the way they’re living their lives. Or, criticizing the way your Shanghai friends from different backgrounds celebrate the holidays.
4. Share all your woes about how tough life is and how bad 2016 has been. When we get around friends and family, it’s great that we feel comfortable sharing our feelings but this can lead to dwelling on the negative. This is especially true when we get around other negative people or people who feed into our negativity (because it makes them feel better).
5. Speak badly about one’s self (internally or externally). Being humble is very different than constantly criticizing yourself. Focusing on your mistakes and regrets creates negative energy.
6. Make assumptions with family members: take what they’re saying personally and assume meanings in what they say and do.
7. Refuse to see things from others’ points of view. Be prepared to fight to defend your beliefs. Watch for things they say that you “just knew” they’d bring up and be ready to argue. Purposely be contrary to get them to discuss (i.e. argue about) issues.
8. Be rigid in your beliefs and expect others to conform to you.
9. Focus on the past or the future.
10. Set a lot of expectations (especially about how people should be).
It is not always easy to avoid these behaviors and thought patterns. But, if you take a little time to mentally prepare and change your own actions, you can make the holidays a lot brighter for yourself and those around you. It’s important to realize you can’t change others but can change your behavior and reactions. This is why it is important not to have unrealistic expectations, especially about people. If you go home expecting someone will change or thinking about all the things they do wrong, you are preparing to ruin your holidays.
Try to be in the present moment during your holiday visits. There is nothing worse than spending the limited time you have at home dwelling on past wrongs or worrying about the future. You also can’t expect people at home to read your mind and understand everything about you, especially when you don’t see each other often.
Take a few moments before you arrive and mentally prepare for a positive visit. Be prepared to listen with compassion, rather than listening just for an opportunity to argue. Don’t assume that if people disagree with you it means they don’t love you. Take a moment to acknowledge your own mistakes and imperfections. You can stick to your own beliefs without being rigid or expecting others to change/work around you. For example, if you are the only vegetarian in your family you can expect them to cook a whole separate meal for you, argue with everyone about the wrongfulness of their diet, and become angry when your expectations aren’t met. Or, you can come prepared with your own food or eat what you can…and have a peaceful time together.
If you’re spending the holidays in Shanghai, take the time to enjoy things. Don’t compare the holidays here to what they’d be like at home. Start new traditions, do something you’ve always wanted to do, or spend some extra time relaxing.
The Body & Soul team wishes you the happiest of holidays! If you are feeling stressed about holiday visits or down about spending the holidays in Shanghai, we hope these tips help. You can click here to make an appointment with one of our psychologists who will help you cope with your feelings and emotions.