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Bonnieby Bonnie Katz, MA

Make Sure Ed Doesn’t Spoil Your Holidays This Year!

The holidays signal a time to press the pause button as you reconnect with family and friends.  You’ve worked hard all year and are looking forward to kicking back and removing yourself from the rat race for a while.  Seasonal tunes stir up memories of holidays gone by. People are wishing each other good cheer and everything seems all right in the world.  How can something that wonderful end up feeling so miserable?  Well, you can blame Ed for that – Expectations and Disappointments.  When you have built up expectations,  you are setting yourself
up for disappointment. Instead of biting the hook this year, try something new.  Embrace what’s right in front of you and stop chasing the dream of perfection.  It doesn’t exist.

Ponder the possibility of becoming a healthy “imperfectionist.”  According to the research of Stoeber and Otto (Professors of Psychology), they believe that there is a healthy type of perfectionist who strives for perfection without concerns like self-doubt, self-criticism, fear of making mistakes or living up to personal and outside expectations. In other words, you trim the tree, buy the gifts, make the 12-course meal, host that fabulous party, all with the goal of doing it to the best of your ability without beating yourself up if it doesn’t all work out as planned.  Doing things this way is not only easier, but it’s good for your health!  In recent studies, perfectionism was associated with burnout, which was described as “a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion brought on by persistent devotion to challenging goals.” Perfectionism can even cause pathological worry and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.  Wow, is pursuing the perfect holiday worth all of that?  When you have realistic expectations of yourself during the holidays, you don’t have to sacrifice your happiness in pursuit of your goals.  Happy people are able to accept their own and others’ limitations, which allows for less regret. If you’d like to try a few small steps that could have a more positive impact on your holiday experience, read on….

  • Don’t cave in to disappointment when things don’t happen as planned.  Instead, get busy turning your negative self-dialogue into positive statements.  Thinking positive is beneficial in helping you achieve your goals, it also gives you protection from spiraling down into a depressed mood.  Remember, where your thoughts go your feelings follow. Positive thoughts will help enhance your mood and well being while negative thoughts will make you feel sad, depressed and have a negative impact on your immune system.  Sometimes you don’t have control over what happens to you, but you always have a choice in how you choose to view it.  Take an active part in creating your joy by turning disappointments into opportunities of growth and wisdom.  Learn from your mistakes rather than using them to beat yourself up.  If you’re not quite happy how things are turning out for you, actively do something about it. Don’t slip into feeling helpless.  There is no such thing as, “I can’t help it, that’s just the way I am.”  Neuroscience proves otherwise.  We have the ability to change (neuroplasticity) our brains, our minds, our feelings, until the day we no longer exist.  The way to do that is by creating new experiences for yourself, which in turn create new neuronal pathways, which have an impact on the way you feel.  For more info on this fascinating subject take a peak here.  No one can make you feel disappointment.  You have to choose to feel it all on your own.  When something disappointing happens to you, feel the “ouch,” and then move through it in a positive direction.  Take the experience and use it to create the life you want to live.  Everything that happens to you, good and bad, can be used for growth.  Think of the negative situation as compost for your internal garden.  You take garbage and through your thinking turn it into beautiful flowers.
  • Are you trying too hard?  Instead, find peace of mind in the self-satisfaction of knowing that you made the effort to do your best; that is an honorable and dignified goal.  Stop competing with Martha Stewart.  Her perfectionism looks good in a magazine, but she’s had hundreds of professionals to help make it look like that. Trying too hard also makes you lose sight of what is important.  People are more important than presents. Be realistic about what you can afford to spend.  Getting yourself in credit card debt is not a solution to overcompensate for issues around self-worth.  Never underestimate the impact of a kind word and caring, it will be remembered a lot longer than a tie or a candle.
  • An easy way to keep your expectations and disappointments in check is to be less self-absorbed.  Divert your focus outside of yourself and onto others who could benefit from your help.  Make a point to be of service to those in need. In fact, individuals who live a life rich in compassion, altruism and greater meaning feel a boost in their well-being.  Research shows that these qualities are linked to greater health, happiness as well as lower inflammation levels!  Meaningful connection to others is crucial to our psychological and physical health. When you go out of your way to be kind, share, care, donate, volunteer and listen you are giving away priceless gifts that will make a difference in you and the world you live in.

This new approach to the holiday season can have a positive effect not only on how you experience the holidays, but how you enjoy your relationships and your career as actors.  Stop putting your happiness on hold, waiting for the outside circumstances to change. Remember, you are responsible for your happiness.  When you are in charge, Ed won’t have the opportunity to spoil your holidays.  Wishing you the best joyful and loving season ever!!

Bonnie Katz, MFT is a licensed therapist in private practice. Her goal as a therapist is to help clients reach “optimal mental wellness”, so that they can feel happiness, fulfillment and joy in their everyday lives. For more information on Bonnie’s therapy practice, visit her website. Like The Conscious Actor on Facebook


I’ve created The Conscious Actor Inspiration Journal; to help actors develop awareness of what inspires them. Beautiful pages filled with inspirational quotes to help keep you strong minded. For New York actors, the journal is available at Drama Book Shop Los Angeles actors may pick up the journal at Samuel French Bookshop

Conscious Actor articles are not a substitution for professional psychotherapy.