What's the biggest problem during the Holiday season? Not going to the gym as much as we should? Eating fatty foods & deserts? Taking time off from our projects and duties? As I was pondering over this question, I understood the problem runs much deeper than just a couple of days of ignoring the gym and tembleques.
What's holding us back during the holidays is the paradox of expectation versus reality.
I'll explain. Via social media we see everyone having a blast with their family, the perfect couple kissing under the mistletoe, the party that's on every story on Instagram. Flawless perfection in every corner. Let's analyze these three situations a bit deeper.
When we are with our families, let's be real, everyone is on their phones. We feel awkward for a variety of reasons: fear of initiating conversation or asking a question that's too direct, which makes us play on our phones to hide our social anxiety. We take family pictures to show everyone else what a wonderful time we are having, but is it genuinely wonderful? Are we connecting with them? Are we asking them how they've been throughout the year? Their anxieties, desires and worries? Or are we drinking alcohol to numb the awkwardness and then ask them all the questions we wouldn't dare pose if we were sober?
Pictures of couples kissing under the mistletoe make us feel lonely. But what if this loneliness stems from an external-source induced desire? The same feeling of wanting a blouse in Zara just because it's in front of us, not because we need it. What if we radically accept our relationship status to rise above the feeling of emptiness this holiday season? Accept the fact that perhaps it's not our time to be in a relationship rather than feeing envious of those who's time has come.
The perfect party: everyone is having a blast, everyone is drinking, dancing and happy. Think about a the time you've been to similar parties: Are you happy? Do you feel free? Most times we don't. We are hyper aware of what everyone is thinking, how they are dressed, what they say about you, how they interpret your dancing, your actions, your body language.
Of course I'm playing devil's advocate for a reason: I want to analyze what we see on social media from a no-bulsh** perspective. Seeing happy people with their partners, friend and family shouldn't cause you despair, depression or loneliness. They are merely an image projected onto to the world: their best faces for you to envy.
Once we understand this is an image, we can choose to change our feelings towards them Let's take them for what they are: images. Not the perfect life, family or partner.
Most importantly, why don't we change our own attitudes and behaviors when we are at, let's say, a family dinner? Rather than being on our phones to avoid conversation, why don't we make the conscious decision of putting our phones aside and genuinely interact with them? It's so important that we understand where our family comes from: their upbringing, their relationship with their parents and siblings, their wants and desires. It provides conversation for future, less awkward talks.
This is just one example of behaviors we can modify this holiday season to feel more connected to our environment and those in it. This is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but we know too well that it can go from wonderful to awful once a post triggers a feeling within us. This Holiday season, rather than letting a post ruin our mood, let's focus on the present moment: our families and those we love the most. Let's make our interactions genuine and honest. Images are only pictures: the power of deciding how it will affect us resides within.