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The Holiday Season is Upon Us Part 7-Ways to Cope with Negative Holiday Expectations

A wonderful gift may not be wrapped as you expect.” Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Photo by Kim Stiver from

This year, as we've already discussed, is nothing like "normal."

(Side note: Anyone that has worked with me knows how I feel about that word, 'normal.'

For ease of understanding, that’s the word I'm using in this blog, complete with my traditional quotation marks. Imagine me doing air-quotes every time you see quotation marks around "normal." If you're not sure why I'm so against the word "normal," just ask!)

The "normal" get-togethers at the "normal" places with the "normal" people may not be the way we've always known them to be. How many of you are feeling off balance or weird about this? I know I am.

Traditionally, I'm trying to balance three to four get-togethers at different places across Stark County. This year, none of those gatherings are happening and I find myself unsure what I'm supposed to be doing with all that time! It's left me sort of "off" because my "normal" is just gone. I'm also trying to figure out what to do with myself to observe the holidays and keep myself and everyone I care about, safe.

Some common holiday expectations I have heard this year include:

*This holiday is going to be awful/horrible

* Things just don't feel right

* Let's just skip the entire last month of the year and try again in 2021

Sound familiar?

How does it feel when you think these thoughts?

Most people don't feel very good when they think these kinds of thoughts. So how can we tackle these types of thoughts to feel better and get our motivation back to finish 2020 strong?

Be aware that by thinking these kinds of thoughts you are predicting the future and the prediction you are making is NEGATIVE. Counselors and other helping professionals refer to this as Fortune Telling. It's a type of error in thinking that left un-checked can lead to depression and anxiety and for some, substance use.

In order to fight back against fortune telling, you must decide you are ready and willing to try something different! If you continue what you are doing, you will continue to get the same results. So once you decide you want to feel better, try to flip your expectations with these questions to yourself:

*What if the new way is kind of fun?

*Am I being resistant to the possibilities?

*What if things being a little different is actually kind of enjoyable?

*What if something hysterical happens on the zoom call with family and/or friends and everyone laughs about it for years to come?

Celebrating the holidays differently doesn't necessarily mean it's going to be bad.

It's important to challenge this type of thinking to feel better. There are tons of ways to challenge this kind of thinking that I teach my clients. I have several worksheets that I offer to them to help with their negative thoughts. If you are curious about seeing one of the worksheets, feel free to reach out to me and I will email it to you.

I also find that writing these things out can make a big difference too. I highly recommend journaling your thoughts and feelings year round, not just this time of year. This is a great strategy not only to express your feelings, but also to later go back and see HOW your thinking impacted your mood and behavior and practice challenging the negative thoughts you find.

Lastly, connect with people every way you safely can. I highly recommend video calls. I think there is something beneficial about seeing and hearing the person with whom you are interacting. Telephone is okay, but I would prefer video calls hands down now that I'm a bit more comfortable using them. It takes a little time to adjust, but I think it is worth it for the sense of connection it can help provide.

I've also talked to people who have gone to someone's house and talked through a window. I've seen people who have done drive-through gatherings in front of someone's house to celebrate a birthday (why not this holiday too if the roads are ok?). There is no WRONG way to do it, just be safe and show your loved ones how much you care by keeping them and yourself safe!

If you'd like to learn more about today's topic or if you have any questions about the services I offer, please call me at 330-451-6306 for your free 15 minute phone consultation. You may also send me a confidential email by going to the following webpage: and entering in your message. You can also visit my website (if that's not where you are reading this) at for more information about me and the services I offer. If you are in crisis, please contact the Coleman Crisis Center in Canton, Ohio at 330-452-6000 for immediate help or the national crisis line at 1-800-275-TALK (8255). You can also text the Ohio Crisis Line by sending "4 hope" to 741-741 or go to the nearest emergency department for immediate assistance.

Until next time, stay well! I hope you have a wonderful holiday!



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