Ditch the Drama of the Holidays Find out how interacting with your spouse and friends differently during the holidays can seriously cut down on the drama. BY DR. NOELLE NELSON
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy. Don't fall into the drama trap.
With the holidays here, you can be sure that planning family gatherings, attending holiday parties, endlessly shopping and preparing for kids' holiday programs will all lead to a dreaded amount of chaos and anxiety. How you handle the predictable drama will dictate, in large part, whether you enjoy or detest the holiday season.
The scenarios are numerous.
Your husband announces he’s finally set up a meeting with that potentially "beaucoup bucks" client he’s been after for weeks. The trouble is, he forgot you had made holiday dinner plans with dear friends. How could he do this to you? He knew how important this was.
Your friend is late—again. She was supposed to meet you for lunch, and then the two of you were going shopping for decorations and props for the kids’ holiday classroom event. Not only do you have to rush through lunch, but you end up settling for so-so decorations because you've run out of time. How could she be so thoughtless? Why are you always the one waiting?
Frustration and anger are normal and legitimate and they seem to exacerbate during the holidays. But don't milk your frustration and anger. Some people love drama. Let’s face it, there’s excitement and passion in building the ordinary hurt into extraordinary damage. You're reminding people of how important and valuable you are, but drama interferes with solving the challenges of everyday life. Most of the time, drama makes everything worse.
Your husband was remiss in forgetting your dinner party, but elevating his forgetfulness to the level of his business coming before you won’t help him remember family obligations. It’ll just make him defensive. Turn your focus on damage control. Perhaps he can schedule his business meeting a half hour earlier, and you can visit with your friends until your husband joins the group for dinner. When you have some quiet time the day after the dinner party, talk with your husband about how the two of you can manage work and family calendars more effectively.
The same approach can work with tardy friends. If your friend is habitually late but you still value her friendship, get creative. Think of ways and times to do things together that won’t ruffle your feathers if she's late.
Emotions are the natural outpouring of who we are. Once they’ve accomplished their purpose, you can choose to prolong the emotions (when they feel good), or let them go quickly (when they don’t). Fanning negative emotions to the level of drama may yield a short-term high, but it only causes long-term lows. This holiday season, leave drama where it belongs—on the stage or movie screen where all that flailing is highly entertaining.
Noelle C. Nelson, Ph.D. is a respected psychologist, consultant, speaker and author. Her most recent books are "The Power of Appreciation in Everyday Life” (Insomniac Press, 2006) and "The Power of Appreciation in Business” (MindLab Publishing, 2005). For more than a decade, she has helped people live happier, healthier lives through appreciation—at work, at home and in relationships. You can contact her via e-mail at email@example.com or on her website www.noellenelson.com.