A personal article for Habitual She
Written by Claire Arceri with Habitual She
"Giving may not always be the best option for the season of giving."
To Give Or Not To Give This Holiday Season?
I know what you must be thinking...why would you even ask such an absurd question? It is the season for giving, after all! When it comes to the holiday season, it seems there are many expectations put on by others and ourselves. In many cases, if we are all honest, these expectations may not always be the healthiest for all parties involved. Which brings me to the thesis of this article in that giving may not always be the best option for the season of giving.
In this personal article, I will try to uncover the true definition of giving and hope to enlighten you with the benefits of NOT giving. I sense some stirring of confusion in your mind so I will get right to it.
The definition of 'GIVE': give, ɡiv/ verb, gerund or present participle: giving
freely transfer the possession of (something) to (someone); hand over to.
synonyms: present with, provide with, supply with, furnish with, let someone have
antonyms: receive, take
bestow (love, affection, or other emotional support)
communicate or impart (a message) to (someone).
freely devote, set aside, or sacrifice for a purpose.
It goes without saying that by the act of giving, we are freely (not forced) bestowing or imparting, transferring from point A to point B. When we freely give, we are not and should not be expecting anything in return. When we give, we should never feel forced to give nor expected to give. The act should always come from a genuine place in the heart and mind. Often times, I have been in a place where I go into the holiday season with stress to achieve (what exactly? I do not know) and be the best version of myself whether looks or words etc. Because showing people like I have it all together is way more acceptable, right? At least that is what's in my head. I think as humans, we all struggle with this at some point in our lives. The pressure to put on a show.
Some of the questions I ask myself: So what is all of this for? What is the underlying twitch that is causing the need for approval? What is it about holidays that brings up certain twitches in my emotional state? How can I position myself to rearrange the stress into simply being present? Is what I am bringing to the figurative table constructive to growing healthy conversations and relationships?
So I will ask you: So what is all of this for? What is the underlying twitch that is causing the need for approval? What is it about holidays that brings up certain twitches in your emotional state? How can you position yourself to rearrange the stress into simply being present? Is what you are bringing to the figurative table constructive to growing healthy conversations and relationships?
In no way is this judgemental, nor is it my intention to come across that way because I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this. The whole point of this article and these questions to bring awareness in hopes to make your holiday season and general approach to life more stress-free. To tell you, and me, that when we give, let it be out of the purest of hearts. If someone makes you feel like you aren't giving enough or maybe they are putting this expectancy on you to give, then I'm here to tell you, you don't HAVE to give anything but your present self.
Check List on what NOT to give this holiday season:
- Shame- "Shame is a painful emotion responding to a sense of failure to attain some ideal state. Shame encompasses your entire sense of self. The physical expressions of shame include the blushing face, slumped with head down, eyes averted. It generates a wish to hide or to disappear. Shame then leads to guilt and GUILT: Guilt is, first and foremost, an emotion. You may think of guilt as a good way to get someone to do something for you out of a sense of obligation. Guilt is not a very good motivator. Overall, guilt is in the general category of negative feeling states. It’s one of the “sad” emotions, which also include agony, grief, and loneliness."
- Apathy- Not interested or concerned; indifferent or unresponsive.
- Being Critical/Judgemental- being inclined to find fault or to judge with severity.
- Being Vindictive-revenge
The BENEFITS of not giving these things: better relationships with the people around you, less stress & drama, actual higher self-esteem by not feeling the need to prove yourself, and a greater sense of belonging since you aren't focused on the expectations put on by you or anyone else.
Check List on what to ACTUALLY give this holiday season:
- Being Present (maybe putting your phone down or turning it off for a couple hours, but what about photos...ok, either bring an actual camera or just resist taking photos for those couple of hours..lol)
- Positivity: reflect your good spirits to the people around you.
- Conversation: find out something new about the people you spend the holidays with, even if you feel like you know everything about them. Ask questions.
- (ell-oh-vee-ee) LOVE: it is the universal language.
- Sympathy/Empathy: For some people, holidays can be a reminder of loss whether through a family member or friend, or estranged relationships so even if you haven't personally experienced as severe as a loss and provide empathy, this is where you can offer sympathy for the ones who have. You can be present with them in their moment of grief and set the intentions of making fun memories with them.
- Respect-When in doubt, sing the song! "R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.." Use your intuition to find out what respect means to the people around you. It will be different for each person.
So to conclude, whether the holidays are approaching or not, these are some of the guidelines that I try to follow when interacting with loved ones, friends, colleagues, or any passer-by.
What are some ways that you combat the stress of expectations during the holidays? Do you have tips to share on ways to give and NOT to give? I would love to hear from you!