Ask most people how they feel about Christmas and you’ll get a mixed response. The whole idea of it is weighed down with expectations. There’s the pressure we put on ourselves to get it right, and then there are those who deliberately sabotage the festivities for others. Do you recognise these seasonal personalities? …
“In the weeks leading up to Christmas, we build ourselves into a frenzy of excitement,” says Irish author and psychology graduate Sheila Bugler. “We spend too much money on clothes we don’t need (Christmas jumpers, anyone?), on presents, food and drink; we over-indulge in ways we wouldn’t normally do. The whole experience perpetuates one of the worst deceptions of modern society – the more we consume, the happier we will be. But who can blame us for wanting Christmas to be special, especially this year?
“I’ve written many times about the challenges of juggling parenthood and work. We add to the pressure we’re already under by trying to make every non-working moment as special as possible. And there is no time more special than Christmas, which means our need to ‘get it right’ can become an unmanageable burden. Over the years, I’ve got slightly better at managing my own expectations. I recognise, for example, that I will never be a domestic goddess. At Christmas, as at all other times of the year, I cook the food I know I can do without messing up, and the rest I buy pre-prepared.
“I asked my 14-year-old daughter why she thought so many people were disappointed by Christmas. ‘Because when we’re little, Christmas really is a special and exciting time,’ she said. ‘So maybe as we get older, we’re always trying to recreate that feeling.’ She’s right, as she tends to be about most things. Instead of recreating childhood memories, something destined to fail from the outset, we should set more realistic goals.”
“Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental condition in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others,” explains Irish wellbeing coach Tony Og Regan. “They often find little or no pleasure in one of the most joyous times of the year, because Christmas in most cases is about empathy – helping those less fortunate, reaching out with love and compassion towards others, spreading peace etc. Emotional intimacy, empathy, compassion, and love are things the narcissist has trouble comprehending and expressing to others, making them challenging to live with. In fact, I believe social media is actively encouraging people to display more narcissistic traits. As people are validated with likes on social media this in turn is putting a huge pressure on many to perpetuate the self-love. Don’t become that person and disengage from those who betray narcissistic tendencies.”
Keep perspective: this period is short. It is not a joyful and happy time for everyone. Many are alone, isolated, homeless, or sick with no amenities or loved ones. Focus on what you are thankful for in life right now. Better moments can be experienced again.
Focus on what matters: pay attention to those who matter the most and spend as much time with them doing the activities you love.
Be a role model of kindness: reach out, volunteer, send letters of appreciation to those who helped you during the year.
Choose your response: if you are living with a manipulative person or narcissist, protect your own peace of mind. Fighting mini battles will zap your energy. Once you disengage so will they over time. @TonyOgRegan
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