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Avoiding Holiday Hell
OK. Last week we talked about the big F of holidays (family. Family. What word were you thinking?). This week we’re going to look at expectations. Sometimes the person we’re most worried about disappointing during the holidays is ourselves.
When I was just out of grad school I had to go to a training for my job managing a group home. I couldn’t tell you who was speaking or even what it was about but this one line stuck with me and I use it a lot in my life. “Some days you have to accept as close as you can get to what you want.”
What does this mean? It’s all about recognizing that things may not be perfect, but they’re close enough. I’ve found that this has tempered my expectations and possible disappointment in my everyday life. A day where my patients all make great strides toward their goals. Great. A day where everyone is miserable and not working on anything I have planned? Great. Knowing that the day is going to get me as close as I can get to what I want in that moment makes it easier to accept both the good and the not-so-hot.
How can we use this for the holidays? Well, just like it sounds- we’re going to accept as close as we can get to what we want. We’d prefer to spend a full 8 hours with our family, but dementia decides that 3 hours is enough. Close enough. Three is better than none. We'd prefer to attend five holiday parties, but dementia decides that we can only do one. One is still better than none. We’d love to make all of the cookies and goodies we love this time of year but dementia demands more of our time so we end up with goodies from Costco instead. It’s OK. The world will not end. It’s all about accepting what we have and being OK with whatever that is.
Try it for a few days. Start the day with “today I will accept as close as I can get to what I want” and live that all day long. Going in with the full understanding that our best will simply be the best today (even if it isn’t as best as yesterday) can really shift our thinking and allow us to accept all of the good from the day. In doing so, we also ease some of the stress of the holidays and the potentially crippling expectations we tend to put on ourselves.
Cut yourself some slack. Take the gift of as close as you can get to what you want.