Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Einstein defined this as insanity.
I define this as...
Trying to create the Pinterest-perfect-Rockwellian holiday, we hurry and worry. We compare and despair. It's as if we've turned the holidays into a competitive sport. Social media being the judge and jury. And the harder we train, and the tougher our game. The worse we feel.
We hold ourselves to the standard of being thin, happy, rich, gracious, grateful, cheerful, merry and bright, while the kids must all get along, and the cards need to be sent on time, and the dog needs to stop eating the ornaments off the tree (or maybe that's just at my house). Which makes us highly susceptible to receiving gifts that we should never accept in the first place.
I personally LOVE giving gifts. It's my favorite part of Christmas. I love shopping and wrapping. I'm horrible at waiting all the way until Christmas and I'm notorious for having to do do last-minute shopping due to my lack of patience and need to, yet again, replenish the tree.
Today, I'm not talking about the beautiful gifts that we give each other. I'm not talking about the trinkets of love and appreciation. Or those precious little hand-made heirlooms that our kids give us from school.
I'm talking about the gifts that are given that we can't see. The gifts that come in an invisible box.
In Rowdyville, we call this the Box Theory. And it's one of the most simple tools to use and incredibly beneficial at this time of year.
Picture a box sent to your house. The UPS guys knocks on your door and offers you a package. Maybe it's from your Sister-In-Law. Your boss. Your frenemy. Your mother.
And carefully printed on the outside of this box is an invitation to feel bad. Maybe inside the box there's an airing of grievances (think: Festivus). Or maybe it holds a solid dose of manipulative guilt. Or judgment. Or criticism. Maybe it's one of a thousand ways that the people around you are asking you to change so that they can feel better.
Or maybe it's one more thing that you just really don't want to have to say 'yes' to.
And if you open that box.
If you accept that box.
If you allow that box into your house, you now have to take on the energy inside that box. You take on their judgments. Their criticism. Their guilt. Their manipulations.
Because they handed you an invitation to feel bad, and you've just agreed to come to that party.
So now you feel guilty. Or ashamed. Or insecure. Or unwanted. Or inferior. Or some other form of shitty.
And then you eat. Or drink. Or spend money. Or do one of a thousand other things that ultimately make you feel crappier.
The good news is that you don't have to accept this box.
You can "return to sender."
This is the way it works: You open the door. See the box. Recognize the invitation to feel bad. And, instead, decide to return the box to sender. You do not engage with it. You don't take it in your house. You don't eat, drink, or suffer through it. You simply return it.
This doesn't mean that you don't care about the person. Or that you don't love the person. Or that you don't want to do what you can for the people that you love. It simply means that you do not accept the invitation to feel bad.
Which opens up a lot more time, space and energy for feeling good.
Which is the ultimate act of love and generosity. For yourself. And for those that you love.