Proper Preparation

Christmas can be a challenging time, so preparing for it is important.

When you think about preparations for Christmas, you might think about hanging lights, shopping and gift wrapping, decorating, baking, house cleaning, meal planning, setting up the guest room, and picking napkins.

Or you might think about donating to food drives, doing charity work, and sharing Christmas cheer.

And you might think about preparing for the birth of Jesus; opening your heart a little bit more for Him. Being a little bit kinder, more patient, loving.

But did you know that you might be doing a certain preparation all wrong?

There are some challenges around Christmas…during any time of the year, actually…that we are negatively preparing ourselves.

I’m not sure if “negatively preparing” is a thing, but if “preparing” sets us up for success, then “negatively preparing” sets us up for failure, more challenge, heartache, wasted time and energy. In other words, this type of preparation is certainly not helpful.

And sometimes we do this negative preparation without even knowing we’re doing it.

Let me explain with an example.

Aunt Sally is coming for Christmas. She can be a little bit bossy, overly particular, and only she can carve turkey the right way. She made that known to everyone last Christmas, and the Christmas before, and the Christmas before that one. You think ahead to Christmas this year, and how it’s going to go. You are feeling resentful and anxious, as you repeatedly replay the “Christmas with Aunt Sally” movie in your mind.

You are negatively preparing.

Resentment and anxiety are depleting emotions; they zap your energy (and have other detrimental effects on you). This means that when Aunt Sally graces your house with her presence, you are less likely to have the energy to be civil, social, and tolerant, possibly turning into harsh words and disputes, and maybe even worse.

Also, mentally replaying previous events and their related drama, only serves to ingrain the story in your mind, literally rewiring your brain. This narrows your vision of all possible (and more pleasant) future scenarios with Aunt Sally to the same unpleasant one that you’ve been replaying. Meaning that you become more and more sure that Aunt Sally will act the same way she “always” does. And because you expect her to behave the same way, you behave in the same way…even before she actually does anything that triggers you. Your behaviour now brings out the typical “Aunt Sally’s behaviour”.

Your mental and emotional replays have served as a mental and emotional dress rehearsal for the actual event. Dooming it. You have been negatively preparing.

So, what is proper preparation?

Is it crossing your fingers, hoping that this Christmas Aunt Sally will be different? No.

Proper preparation for any challenge, not just for Christmas with Aunt Sally, includes 2 parts:

  1. Save your energy for the challenge itself. Negative emotions, feelings, and attitudes before the event drain your energy unnecessarily. Hours, days, weeks before the event/challenge takes place, be aware of your emotional state. If you find yourself having negative attitudes, emotions, and feelings, remember that you will need this energy for the challenge and then shift into more renewing attitudes, emotions, and feelings in that moment. (This is intelligent energy management, the basis of stress management and building resilience.)
  2. Practice positive mental and emotional dress rehearsals. Think about the challenge that is to come and imagine yourself remaining calm and composed regardless of whatever happens. That way, when you are in the challenge, calm and composure are familiar experiences to you, almost second nature, making it easier for you to feel that way in the heat of the moment. This increases the likelihood of positive outcomes.

This Christmas, maybe Aunt Sally won’t be different, but maybe your response to her will be with the proper preparation.

Here’s to conquering stress.

Ready to take this deeper? Learn intelligent energy management skills with Short Term Coaching. Learn more.

With heart,

The Stress Experts

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