Holiday Survival Tip: Expect

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Holiday Survival Tip: Expect

Expect things to not turn out the way you planned.  You make lists, shop, wrap, text, schedule and then….  

There are so many ways that things can shift as the moment arrives: the unexpected, a need to change your plans, pleasant surprises. 

How many ways can it go wrong?

A dish you have made many times before does not turn out right. The fridge stops working. The gift is broken in the package. You get into a fender bender. The toilet bowl develops a concerning crack.  

It is easy to imagine ways it could go wrong.  Our brains are expert at this.  We remember the ways things went wrong to avoid danger in the future.  The brain hopes that by remembering the bad thing, over and over, you will not repeat it and therefore be safer.   

How many ways can it go better than expected?

At the store you see the thing you forgot to put on the list, giving you the chance to pick it up.  The random gift turns out to be a huge hit!  You had no idea they would like it so much.  That new recipe is easier and more delicious than you thought it would taste.  A friend calls just when you need to talk.  There is a stash of holiday stamps in with the cards, you forgot you put them there.  The gathering you feel obliged to attend turns out to be so much fun.   

Our brains tend to think, “good…This is not danger. What’s next?” We are likely to feel a sense of relief and move on to the next thing.   

What do we do when things don't go as planned?

When things go wrong – remind yourself that, in the scope of life, this is normal.  Ask for help.  Take a break.  Speak to yourself with compassion.   

What about when things go right, or even better?  Take a minute for a mini-celebration!  Yesssss!  Savor the moment – this is so wonderful!!!  Journal it so that your brain registers the good thing.  Stop to walk through how that worked out so you can “learn your lesson.”  Lessons learned can be good ones too! 

Know that this holiday season will not go as expected. Let go of needing things to be perfect.  Keep your eye out for those things that go so much better than you had planned.  Celebrate the little joys. 



Laura A. Gaines

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