How do you deal with your frustration or disappointment when your holiday plans don’t go like you want them to? What do you do when you have certain expectations and they don’t happen? What about when your family or friends let you down? Or your life circumstances are not what you would wish?
There are various scenarios where this can happen. Maybe your family members don’t share your same ideas of the holiday or cooperate with your expectations. You may have to work more than you expected. Perhaps health challenges make it difficult for you because you can eat the same goodies as before.
Perhaps you or someone else gets sick or has died. Maybe you are away from your family or a loved one has to be overseas in the military or on a mission. Your lives and values have changed and you don’t have the same interests and bond you used to have. Maybe you have a disruptive family situation or conflict between family members. Or your life and dreams have been shattered by rejection from someone you love.
Expectations and desires for holidays either based on traditions in your family or what has happened in the past are normal. Traditions are good and have their place.
What happens though when things don’t go the way they always have or the way you want them?
7 Tips to Help You Find Satisfaction And Even Joy When Holiday Plans Are Not Ideal
1. Process your feelings. Don’t deny your feelings. They are valid. Any time things don’t go the way you want, there is a sense of loss. The fastest way through your feelings is not by denying or ignoring them but by processing them. Deal with your disappointment, frustration, anger or sadness.
Let yourself have those feelings. If you have an empathetic friend, share your feelings or write about them. When you accept your feelings, it helps you get past them. You may have to do this several times and it can be a process depending on the depth of the loss.
If you need to forgive someone for the wrong they did to you, do so. Hanging on to an offense doesn’t change things, it robs you and your family from being able to enjoy each other. We all have shortcomings and make many mistakes. When you forgive, you’ll find a sense of freedom even if the others don’t change.
2. Gain perspective. Look for the opportunities in the situation. If you don’t see them, ask God to help you see the good that can come out of it. If a family member doesn’t want to do what you want, this is an opportunity for you to grow in being unselfish and learning how to let go.
If you are sick, it’s an opportunity to grow in compassion for others who suffer. It’s also an opportunity to be still and reflect. Quietness and stillness recreates and rest heals.
If someone is overseas or is no longer with you, maybe you can write something for them or in their memory. You have the opportunity to grow in compassion for others who do not have their loved ones.
Suffering unites us with other fellow human beings.
3. Let go. Surrender the ideal. There are a lot of expectations created in culture, by others and by ourselves that makes us want the ideal situation. Instead, accept the reality that is. There is peace that comes when you accept things the way they are versus the way you want them to be. This can be a process so be patient with yourself.
4. Be flexible. Think about your needs and desires and other options and ways you can get those met. Take charge of your situation and explore other possibilities. If you have in your mind that only certain situations or people can meet your needs, you keep yourself from seeing any number of ways your needs can be met. You also shut yourself off from new experiences.
5. Find out what the other people involved think, feel and need. If it’s your family that is not meeting your expectations, find out what they want to do and figure out how you can negotiate ways for the situation to be a win/win.
6. Talk about needs and desires in advance. Even plan several options so if one plan doesn’t work out, you have another one.
7. Reach out to others. If nothing works out for you the way you want, think of ways you can help others. Even when you are sick, you may be able to make a phone call or write an email or pray for others. In your loss, comfort someone else in their suffering. When you find yourself in self pity, one of the quickest ways out of that trap is to help someone else who has a need. In giving, you will receive.
You don’t have to be a victim of anything that happens to you. When you take charge of the situation, acknowledge and process your feelings, gain prospective and explore other options, you can find a place of peace and satisfaction. At times you may even discover an unexpected joy!
“Love does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking;” I Corinthians 13:5 (AMP)
P.S. I had a chance to test this later Christmas 2014 when plans did not work out the way I wanted. In fact, the way my plans were thwarted deeply grieved me.
I did not have time to walk through all the steps or do everything recommended. However, I did re-read this post and the insights helped me to look for a way I could redeem the situation and find some positive solutions in the midst of it.
At the time I questioned my own advice and the possibility of finding a satisfactory solution and even joy. I prayed for wisdom and for God to help me. By following the idea God gave me, I did find a way to redeem the situation and at the end of the day, my sorrow had turned to joy.