Thursday, September 27, 2012

3 Steps to Prevent Holiday Stress

It's Warm-Up Week for October's PURSE-onality Challenge: "A Holiday-Ready Heart"!  Here's a handy checklist to make sure you're all ready. (And if you're a blogger, grab the button on the right, let me know you've added it to your site, and I'll add you to my blogroll!)

This week's give-away is for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. (It's a Gregory Family tradition to have Daniel read this aloud to us every Christmas Eve...and for him to choke up at the end!)  3 names will be drawn -- enter via the Rafflecopter at the end of the blog post or click here to enter!

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I really don't want my December looking like this again this year!
When I started reading Stumbling on Happiness a couple of years ago, I didn't expect to have my lifetime of procrastination and last-minute anxiety explained.

I didn't even think I needed (or deserved) an explanation beyond "Cheri's a Sanguine, and Sanguines are flakes."

Here's a new concept I find simultaneously comforting and challenging...and potentially practical for pray-paring A Holiday-Ready Heart.

Far Away vs. Close Up

Gilbert points out that when we see little black specks on a prairie horizon, we recognize them -- visually -- to be buffalo located far away. 

We do not look at them and think, "They are tiny; thus, they must be insects."  The fact that they are vague and blurry signals to our brains that they are far away.

Conversely, we recognize insects not just because they are small but also because we see the wings and legs; we see details!  Visually, we do very well at recognizing that vagueness and blurriness indicate distance while details signal closeness.

When a buffalo comes walking across the prairie toward us, we do not act shocked that it has hooves or fur or eyelashes or other details we couldn't see when it was far away. We know that the closer it comes, the more details we will see.  

This is normal for us, at least visually.

Future vs. Present

However, when it comes to dealing with time –- specifically planning for the future, –- some of us can go “all wonky” (as my daughter would say)!

When I "see" something on the horizon of my future, it's all vague and blurry. 

I have a "feel" for it. 

This vague, blurry feel is typically the why of the future event, and I make my decisions based on that why.

But as that vague and blurry future gets closer, inevitably becoming the up-close detailed present, I am shocked -- positively appalled! -- by all the details I did not agree to! The myriad details of the how throw me into fits. 

Gilbert illustrates this by asking how many times we've committed to something a month or two ahead of time, thrilled by the concept of being (for example) a doting aunt and loving sister: "Yes, I'd love to babysit my nephews!"  

But when the time actually comes, the reality of screaming children, runny noses, and poopy diapers bears no resemblence to what I initially agreed upon because I agreed to the why of a concept not the how of the details

Getting PURSE-onal

Applying this to myself as a (50%) Sanguine, and I’ve got nothing but trouble!  I’m a visionary, so I love saying "yes" to new ideas!  I love the ideas. I love how I expect I’ll feel when the vague, blurry idea occurs!

But as the commitment draws closer, my (50%) Choleric side knows it should be checking details off a list. Well, Sanguine Cheri didn't sign up for no stinkin' details. I signed up for a glorious why

Finally, when disaster is imminent, Choleric Cheri knows she has to take action.  Having procrastinated as long as possible (because Sanguine Cheri wants to bask in the splendor of the glorious why as long as possible before reality comes crashing down around her.) I am then stuck trying to execute dozens, if not hundreds, of soul-killing details in an absurdly short period of time.

To live from a holiday-ready heart, I will pause long enough to take into consideration both the why of a concept and the how of the details before making a commitment

3 Steps to Prevent Holiday Stress

Here are the three steps I'll be taking when I'm invited to make a commitment that I think might be a good fit for me:

1)  I will take time to think. 24 to 48 hours, minimum. (My people-pleasing knee-jerk "yes" has gotten me into too much trouble over the years!) I will set aside time for prayer and quiet listening. Then I'll spend 15-20 minutes brainstorming every possible detail that needs to be dealt with in order for this new commitment to be a success by my standards.

2)  I'll take my list to Daniel and ask him what worst case scenarios I've left off my list. As a Melancholy, he is well qualified to "rain on my parade," and pre-commitment is when I want (or at least need!) to have my spirits dampened.

3)  I will then prayerfully consider whether or not I can say "yes" to everything on the list. Not just the vague and blurry why of glory, but also to all the nitty-gritty details required to get me there. 

If I say "no," thank heavens for all involved!

If I say "yes," then I'll prioritize all those brainstormed details, add them to my calendar, and start chipping away at them so I can actually enjoy the why when it rolls around.

Your Turn
  • Are you more of a "big picture" or "detail-oriented" person? How has this influenced your holiday experiences?
  • When you say "yes" to a commitment, are you typically saying "yes" to the why, the details, or both?
  • Anything else on your heart!

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  1. Ha! Ha! Cheri! I know what you mean...I didn't sign up for no stinkin' details either! I so had to laugh because that is ME! I sign up for something and as it gets closer I start seeing all the details and then wonder what on EARTH I've gotten myself into!