The magic question for a Christmas without comparison
Posted December 20, 2016
Part of me hates the holidays because the family gatherings end up making me feel horrible about myself, and I really don’t need more of that. I already struggle with feeling I’m not good enough, so add in my relatives, who are all more successful and have perfect families, with tons of expensive presents — and it’s no fun at all. Anything I can do to feel better about myself when around them all?
During the holiday season, many of us find ourselves feeling more down than up. We all want to be present and spend time with our family, we just don’t want the conflict, confrontation, feelings of jealousy and inferiority that usually accompany these events. Fortunately, a simple shift in mindset could help you to get through the holidays without any negative feelings.
The first step is to understand where the negative feelings come from. You (and everyone else on the planet) are suffering from a severe case of fear of failure (the fear that you aren’t good enough). Everyone does battle with this fear, to some degree, on a daily basis. But the holidays can trigger this more than any other time of the year. When your fear of failure gets triggered, your emotions, thinking and behavior can get negative fast. We all exhibit our worst behavior when we feel inferior.
For some of us, this fear drives us to overcompensate and show off, toot our own horn and try to get attention. For others, it encourages them to shrink back, stay quiet and even be invisible if possible. Some people get grouchy and mean, while others are too nice and try to win approval through people pleasing. The types of bad behavior that fear of failure creates are countless, but none of them bring out the authentic you or make you capable of love.
Unfortunately, at Christmas there are always questions asked by friends and relatives about how we are doing and what’s new in our lives. Some families also tease and use sarcastic humor, which can make you ridiculed, judged or criticized. If you have had a tough year with many challenges, lessons of loss or trials, these questions can lead to huge feelings of failure and could make you uncomfortable and defensive. Most of the family conflicts we see at Christmas are the result of being offended by others, jealousy or being triggered with feeling that you are not enough. If you are not able to financially give at the level you would like to, or the gifts under the tree are few, this can also trigger huge feelings of not being enough.
Comparison to others is the fastest way to lose your confidence and feel bad about yourself. And it’s so easy to do. You need only go to Facebook and see what clothes other people are wearing, where they are on holiday, their new car, parties, friends and their amazing job, and it’s easy to feel deflated and believe your life is not measuring up.
Here are five ways to stop the comparison and stay positive:
• Remember why you are here. This is not a shopping or sight-seeing trip. This is not a contest and "he with the most toys wins." This is not a beauty pageant or a best parenting race, and it is definitely not a test.
You are here on this planet for one reason — to learn and grow in character, love and wisdom. The purpose of this journey is growth and education. If you want an amazing family party experience this year, ask this one magic question to everyone there, “Tell me what life taught you this year?"
• Trust the classroom. If the purpose for being here is to learn, you must choose to see the universe as your wise teacher and trust it knows what it’s doing. Each of us have a very different journey based on the lessons and experiences we need to make us a greater source of love in the world. Some of us have perceived easier or harder classes than others, but the truth is your journey is perfect for you. It is exactly as it needs to be. You are never failing or off track. You are right where you need to be, having the perfect lessons you needed, to make you more loving, wise, compassionate and connected to other people. Stop experiencing loss or disappointment about your journey and choose to trust God and the universe. Ask everyone at your family parties what they learned this year and reflect on the great lessons your classroom taught you. This will bring peace.
• Change the way you determine your value. To instantly feel better about yourself and eliminate the fear of failure in any moment, just choose to believe that all human beings have the exact same intrinsic value (that doesn’t and cannot change). This works because your fear of failure comes from the fact you believe human value is changeable and goes up and down (based on your appearance, performance, property and what others think of you). This is why you subconsciously believe people with more presents under the tree, who are thinner, who go on more trips or have more friends are better than you.
This is only a perspective, it is not truth. You can choose to see all human beings as having the same infinite, absolute, unchanging value if you want to. Our life lessons and experiences may be very different, but that doesn’t affect your value. Your value is not tied to the clothes you wear, the car you drive, your success at work or the amount of money in your bank account. Your value is infinite, absolute and unchangeable, and the same as every one elses, because it is based on the fact you are unique, a one-of-a-kind human soul, and that never changes. Choose this mindset, and you will have more peace.
• Remember why we are different. God made us all different, in different races, cultures, religions, political parties, sexual orientations, colors and sizes for one reason … it makes us stretch in our ability to love. So, when you are around friend and family who are different from you (richer, poorer, more emotional, more controlling, more loud, more quiet, more accomplished, more balanced, or who appear to have the perfect family) you must see them as a teacher in your journey, to stretch your ability to love. Instead of being critical, annoyed, gossiping or judging them, ask the magic question and discover what they can teach you.
• Choose how you feel in every moment. This power to choose how you feel gives you control over how you show up. Make the decision to see human value as infinite and the purpose of the journey education, and you will show up for yourself and others as a source of love. Pause before you go into a Christmas event and remind yourself — I am enough, my value cannot be diminished by myself or others, we are all on our perfect journey and what we are all learning is what should be celebrated. Take a deep breath and decide to be the love in the room. Ask the magic question and make everyone feel important and validated. When you focus on pouring your love into others, you will have peace about yourself and a much better time.
There is a worksheet on my website that will help you maintain a healthy, positive, holiday mindset. You can download it here. Read it a few times daily all through the month.
You can do this.