Giving Your Inner Child a Holiday Present in 7 Easy Steps
If this holiday season is like most for you, it probably involves running around taking care of everyone else but yourself. This may involve you feeling the pressure to send a card to everyone you know with a personalized note, even if you have forgotten their birthday; buying gifts for the key members of your that indicate how much you value them, even if they have been awful to you all year; hosting a series of dinner or parties where everything is cooked and baked by you, even if pizza and takeout are regularly featured in your weekly dinners.
Holidays and Your Inner Child
The reason why you feel you must plug the emotional gaps for those you know and those who you care about may have more to do with early messages in childhood where what was prized, and perhaps modeled, was taking care of everyone else before you take care of yourself. These messages, instructions, rules to live by are stored within us in what I’ll call your inner child, the remembered part of your childhood that can take over, guiding your actions, particularly in emotionally fraught times like Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve.
No, I’m not going to say stick it to everything that is planned and is expected of you, and then change everything at literally the last moment (even thought that may not be a bad idea). But I will show you how you can soothe and moderate these expectations by taking care of yourself.
Use Your Senses to Center Yourself
You are a human being with feelings and senses. Yes, you’re busy, but you can use your senses to help slow yourself down and help you feel more in control. Also called mindfulness, this paying attention to your senses can help soothe you and center you. And who knows, It may even make you more productive.
Try these seven simple tips:
- Feel the bubbles made by the dish soap in the endless washing up you will be doing. Play with them, enjoy their smoothness and sense of play.
- See the clouds scudding in the sky, the moon winking at you, the trees moving in the breeze. Take a deep breath as you walk, or run, through your day, and appreciate the beauty before you.
- Smell and savor the delicious aromas of the cakes and cookies you are baking, or the roast you have seasoned.
- Sense the warmth of the sun, or the tingle of snowflakes, or the crystal clearness of raindrops as you hurry through your shopping.
- Say positive things to yourself:
- These bubbles are fun.
- I love my own cooking.
- I deserve to see this beauty.
- I’m doing well here.
- This looks great.
- I love the smell of the air just before it snows.
- Own the power you have to bring joy to others by seeing and allowing yourself to “take in” the delight on the faces of those you love.
- Note the rewards you want to give yourself:
- Like the bubbles? How about a bubble bath on a regular basis?
- Like noticing what you’re doing well? Consider writing your own personal daily affirmations. Yes, take the ten seconds it will require to do this regularly—you’re worth it.
My suggestions will take only seconds and not delay you in any task, but they will make whatever you are doing more enjoyable by making space for you, your needs, while you are being so productive in taking care of everyone else.
Know that when you create even these thin slivers, these tiny moments where you are in touch with yourself, you are feeding your inner child by recognizing your needs and your wants, a skill that may not have been taught to you as a child.
Making Changes—Developing Resilience
We can all learn from out stressful experiences. When we do this, it’s called resilience. Want to be resilient in the New Year? Then, consider changing a few things:
- Play with pairing down the list of what you are pushing yourself to do. Want to experiment this holiday season?
- For example, consider sending out a Valentine’s card, with a letter that goes to those you care about. Or better yet, send out an email blast for St. Patrick’s Day with an update on you and yours. Not only will you have more time and energy in the coming months than you do now, but think how special your recipients will feel to be remembered when it isn’t Christmas or their birthday.
- Make simple changes. They will be the easiest to do and will be more likely to stick.
- Take two golden minutes for yourself as you begin and end your day. Enjoy your coffee or tea as you gaze out the window. Do some gentle neck rolls, set an intention of something you’d like to do for you today, like take the stairs instead of the elevator, or pack some grapes or an apple for a snack at work.
- Write a good New Year’s resolution. Feel you can’t change course midstream, and want to wait for a really good New Year’s resolution? Take notes on all the things you’d like to do differently next year. Yes, literally write them down in your journal.
- For example, make next Christmas’s dinner a family potluck where you’re only making the turkey or other main course. Collect these ideas for the next eleven months and you’ll set yourself up for a less stress-filled and more balanced holiday celebration next year.
Write and let me know how you took care of yourself …
Wishing you a more peaceful holiday season.
Patricia O’Gorman, PhD, is a speaker, a consulting psychologist in upstate New York, and the author of nine books, including The Girly Thoughts 10 Day Detox Plan and The Resilient Woman: Mastering the 7 Steps to Personal Power: 12 Steps to Self-Parenting. She is a regular blogger at The Powerful Woman. Learn more at patriciaogorman.com.