Self Improvement — 15 January 2013
Avoid feelings of resentment during Holiday preparations

The Holiday preparations are often overwhelming. Attending to all the details for the festivities leaves some hosts feeling agitated, angry, stressed and even resentful about their unfair burdens and about those who carry less of the load.

As unpleasant as stress may feel, its function is to prod us to accomplish our tasks and earn the satisfaction of achievement. To avoid becoming overwhelmed and to reduce stress, we must request help from others. Working within a team relieves some of the stress, brightens the dreary aspects of the job and lightens the burden both physically and emotionally. Teamwork enables us to feel more confident, secure and supported.

Fatigue and eventual feelings of resentment are inescapable when most of the responsibilities fall predominantly upon one person’s shoulders. The Holiday spirit is dampened by the burdened individual’s discontent, criticism and complaints. Disharmony between the spouses and other family members may cloud the wonders of the Holidays.

The overburdened worker often feels: fear of failure, anticipated criticism, self-doubt, insecurities about competence and worries about not pleasing family and friends. These concerns are exacerbated by extraordinary fatigue and exhaustion.

The constant negative self-talk, feelings of fear, ineptness and time pressures are emotionally exhausting. This emotional self-battery often results in criticizing others or having a bad attitude that may drive others further away from the overworked individual.

Given the repetitive nature of these events, the overburdened individual must learn a different coping mechanism. Modifying one’s thoughts helps the individual gain greater peace and solicits more help without berating or intimidating others.

Years ago, when I refused pain medications while going through an interminable delivery, my physician stared right into my eyes and said: “We do not give any medals for heroism here for suffering pain.”  This message awakened me to reassess my line of thinking. I realized my role in contributing to my own suffering.

In “The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion“ Dr. Christopher Germer describes this paradoxical lesson: “We all want to avoid pain, but letting it in and responding compassionately to our own imperfections, without judgment or self-blame are essential steps on the path to healing.”

Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison studied brain mechanisms of underlying emotions. He discovered that we enhance our mind’s structure by feeling compassion for others and ourselves.

In changing our perspective from being oppressed by holiday preparations and substituting it with a dose of self-compassion we may alleviate the fears and embolden ourselves to accept help and teamwork support. By replacing the messages of worst case scenarios involving failure, shame or ineptness with words of self-encouragement and praise, we will permit ourselves to ask for help, affirm others and create a truly Happy Holiday for all.

For resentment-free Happy Holidays:

  • Abstain from negative self-talk that shames, frightens or berates you.
  • Invite others to participate by requesting help and being appreciative.
  • Treat yourself with compassion. It will quell resentment and increase satisfaction and happiness for all.


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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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