December, more than any month of the year, seems to give us 31 days of permission to overdo it. We overextend ourselves with events, spending, and consuming all while convincing ourselves that it is the norm because that’s what we do during this magical season. Overextending includes the expectations we have about what we believe should happen. The rational part of our brain goes on sabbatical while the ancient part of our brain kicks into overdrive. For some irrational reason, we expect that family gatherings will turn out like the ending of a Hallmark movie and our relationship challenges will dissolve when that special person opens the gift we’ve agonized about purchasing.
Change this habit
What can you do to change the habit of overextending and overcommitting? Consider asking yourself 3 questions to start feeling less stress, less disappointment and less emotional turmoil.
What do I need right now?
Whether it is a nap or just the ability to have 15 minutes to yourself, listen to your body. Give yourself permission to say NO to a request that you already know won’t serve you well. It isn’t immediately easy to release feelings of guilt or obligation, but consider starting with something small. Do one thing every day to honour what you need and you’ll begin to find it easier to release unhealthy emotional reactions.
What might the other person be feeling right now?
This question will help you dial up on compassion and dial down on assumptions. Practice what is called Theory of Mind. It is a fancy phrase for putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you ask yourself this question, you avoid making an assumption that might not be accurate. You also show up with more compassion when you consider another’s feelings, wants and needs especially in situations when they might be triggering you emotionally. Doing so may help you avoid saying something you’ll later regret.
What is the healthiest choice I can make to honour my mind, body and spirit right now?
When you’re in the throws of overextending yourself, you limit your ability to slow down enough to make healthy choices and that is exactly the most important action you can take to change the course of a negative trajectory.
Take time to recharge your batteries and carve out some down time. Be intentional about it. Consider if attending another event or watching another episode of a Netflix series is going to help you recharge.
You know yourself best. There is only one you. You deserve care and attention and the best person to give you both, at any time, is…you.