I know I have probably gone early, but I suppose everyone else has. The mass build up for Christmas starts at the beginning of November, when the first adverts appear on the TV, to such an extent that the release of certain Christmas adverts have become a multi-media event, with people waiting excitedly for them to drop into their news feed. Now don’t get me wrong I get sucked in to all of this as much as anyone else. It is fun and exciting, the adverts make us smile, the Christmas decorations brighten the place up.
There is a but though. As with all things social media, and advertising, we are being sold a lifestyle. From early November up until Christmas Eve we will be bombarded with adverts and information about what we should be eating, drinking and wearing. But not just that we are also told how to behave with relatives, and friends. We are told to that is we want to appear successful we should have that particular tree and cook that particular unfortunate bird. However we are then told to not buy presents and spend quality time together with people. If we are ‘gifting’ we should be upcycling or making our own produce. So what do we do? Do we recycle some old tat to give to friends and family, do we not bother and invite them for a meal and drinks, but if we do what should we serve them? Is it Goose, Turkey, Swan, or Ostrich? Is Aldi Gin OK, or do I need to spend a small fortune on some obscure Vodka distilled from a Siberian Iceberg?
We are constantly being advised on how we should be if we want to be successful. Even this blog is probably guilty of that. Social media as mentioned many times is wonderful (I wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t for Social Media). Social media drives comparison and does shape how we feel about our own lives, whether we are willing to admit it or not. Before the internet the TV and printed media provided to same drive. The difference now is that it is constant, and is widespread. It is so hard now to avoid this bombardment of advice on how to be socially successful and this is ramped up during the festive season. If you cannot afford to buy all the must get items for Christmas, or if you cannot turn your hand to making your own gifts or decorations, this bombardment can have a seriously detrimental effect on your mental health. If unchecked at best it can ruin your enjoyment of the festive season, or at worst can make you feel less worthy and a failure.
So how do you combat this, and enjoy this festive period? Now this is something that does effect me every Christmas, there are Christmas parties and then all the adverts. They all combine to make me feel at little less successful and worthy. This year I have decided to use some of the techniques I have been learning about that I am incorporating into my book. I feel bad about myself because I am actually paying more attention to what I don’t have. This is perfectly normal, something we all do, it is after all evolutionary essential as it keeps us safe, ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’ as Jack Reacher says (I am reading a Lee Child book at the moment). So if comparing is our default then we need to practice some new habits. This to examine what we have and what is important to us. One thing I did was to use Steven Covey’s mission statement and eulogy idea to take stock of what is important to me. This is something I have talked about in an earlier blog. Basically put what impact do you want to make on your part of the world? How do you want to be viewed by those people important to you? What do you personally value? Not what you think you should value, but what is really important to you. This is quite hard as we like to think that we should value, family, kindness, determination. We also value being appreciated, listened to etc. So think about what is really important to you. Then ask yourself, do you project yourself as you want to be seen? Do you live up to your values? If you fall short work on rectifying that. When you start to compare yourself with others, look at what you have and what is important to you. Also remember someone is comparing themselves to you. On balance you probably have all the things you need to have a brilliant Christmas. It is your Christmas not anyone else’s, if it makes you happy and those people important to you happy, then that is enough.
4 weeks to go, so plan your Christmas not what social media says is a successful Christmas, and if you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, don’t.