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Five ways to survive the holiday season


With all the commercials on TV featuring happy, loving couples exchanging gifts and dashing through the snow or snuggled by the fire, it’s easy to feel left out if you’re single during this season.

How can you keep our expectations of the holidays in check so you’re ready to hit the New Year with a healthy, upbeat (and attractive) attitude — even if you’re not smooching under the mistletoe? Read on.

1. Make a list. “We can take seasonal expectations in stride when we realize that the promise of perfection is just an illusion,” counsels Mick Quinn, author of Power and Grace — The Wisdom of Awakening. “List all the places, people and things that once really excited you. Examine your feelings just after you took possession of them or achieved what you hoped for with them. It is often noted that desire wanes immediately afterward or when a larger achievement or thrilling new relationship occurs. Attainment is not really going to make you any more complete than you already are. Then you can begin to see that the promise of perfection is really an illusion.” When you understand that cycle people usually buy into — that the second you have one good thing in your life, you want more, more, more! — you can begin to re-program that belief. You’ll see that “living the fantasy” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

2. Practice gratitude. Nancy Kirk, author of Just A Minute, suggests starting a gratitude journal. “It’s a great way to start the day in a good way.” Just because you’re not in a relationship doesn’t mean you aren’t lucky and blessed. So look around you and realize what you do have; you can focus on the big stuff (friends, family, your home, your health) and the little things (your favorite song, a good cup of coffee in the morning, the beauty of a cold winter’s day). Write it down and reflect on it.

3. Don’t be manipulated. “I think it’s important to remember that the romantic world advertisers have created is essentially fictional, and that everyone — married or single — generally suffers holiday let-downs,” says Lori Smith, author of The Single Truth and A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love, and Faith. “So love the ones you have, whether they’re parents, siblings or friends, and remember that the advertising world makes money by making us all want things we don’t have. Don’t fall for it!”

4. Create your own rituals. Bernie Katz, coauthor of Actually, It IS Your Parents’ Fault: Why Your Romantic Relationship Isn’t Working and How to Fix It, suggests making up a new set of holiday observances that are all your own. “For example, spend several hours dispensing food to the needy and then treat yourself to a holiday meal at your favorite restaurant,” he says. “Or write out holiday greeting cards. Have a group of close friends to your home for a brunch. Spend a cold holiday morning on the Internet planning your next summer vacation. Anything that produces a feeling of satisfaction and/or well-being deserves to be repeated.”

5. Don’t settle. You wouldn’t wear an ugly sweater all year just because someone gave it to you for Christmas. So why settle for a relationship you don’t want to be in just because don’t want to be alone? “You always wind up regretting it,” says Christie Lawrence, facilitator for Pathways/ Relationship Rich Seminars in Dallas, TX. “Each of us has gone out on a date we knew was not right for us. During the holiday season, it can be a real temptation to settle just so you don’t have to be alone. So be on the alert for users — those people who come into your life around the holidays for what they can get: presents, social invitations, an escort. This is where you need to trust your instincts and listen to your internal alarm bells.”
Following this advice might not be easy in the holiday whirl, but simply bringing awareness to your dating expectations throughout the season can be a big benefit. It will help you realize that this isn’t the time of year to feel down about what you don’t have, but instead, a terrific moment to appreciate what you do have.

By Margot Carmichael Lester

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