By Valeria Vilar, MA, BEd, LMHC
We hear holiday songs all around us; there is cinnamon scent in the air; houses, streets and shops gleam with lights; and a sense of magic pervades our emotions.
Shop windows entice us to buy attractive gifts. Radio, television, multiple tourist offers, attractive destinations, cruises, etc., delight us and invite us to experience amazing holidays, the best and most unique holidays in our lives, that will remain in our memories forever.
This magical ambience promises both joy and plenitude that may lead some people to build up high expectations hard to achieve.
Like any other expectation, it may arouse excitement and high spirits, but it may also cause anxiety or fear of frustration, disappointment or disillusion.
During my professional career, I have come across many people who tend to plan their lives and parties and celebrations with high standards, only to end up feeling miserable when they realize they are unable to meet theses standards, due to reasons beyond their control or simply because of the way they perceive life.
For example, some people tend to “perceive reality in extremes”; black or white, all or nothing. When these people receive less than what they expected or anything they consider short of perfect, they feel absolute losers.
Others perceive reality through the use of a “mental filter”, i.e., they only focus on one single detail of the overall situation. In general, if this detail is exclusively negative, all their vision of reality turns black, like a drop of black ink dying a full glass of clear water.
Finally, I have seen many families who are so eager to spend a magical, perfect and unforgettable holiday that they forget about the big picture.
These families may fall into the trap of “disqualifying the positive”. They reject positive experiences insisting that for some reason they do not count, and have a blurred vision of the situation lived.
I offer you an alternative reflection for these holidays so you can be aware of these common tendencies: Discard black or white thinking, mental filter and disqualification of the positive.
Plan these holidays with generosity, keep an open mind, and enjoy them with happiness.
I invite you all to focus on the positive things you have, to look around you and be grateful for all you have. Prioritize true and authentic values in your life, so you can enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. Happy Holidays to all of you!!!