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November 28, 2019

Obligation is Killing Your Christmas Spirit (and may be a cause for your weight increasing at this time of year)

If you are the kind of person who feels obligation, especially at this time of year, this blog post is for you. (Especially those of you who are planning to restrict food at those upcoming Christmas events).

At Christmas time there are expectations around what we do, give and how we act.

The thing is, we are the ones who actually impose those expectations. Even though other people may ask or expect, it’s actually up to US as to whether we make it an obligation or take action.

If you are looking at your screen with confusion right now let me explain. I used to feel obliged a LOT. It made me feel terrible – frustrated, powerless and guilty. When I learned how to let go of the obligation, I felt empowered. (I’m mostly onto myself these days, but let’s be honest, no one’s perfect.)

Here is one example of how it used to play out in my life.

Alcohol. Most people think that alcohol is an obligatory part of celebrating. It’s something cultural that we have been brought up to believe. I quite like the taste of alcohol and I have been a social drinker for most of my life. The thing is, about 30 minutes after I drink I get a throbbing headache, my face goes bright red and the next day I feel dehydrated and lack lustre.

At Christmas there are always people who want to make you feel welcome and happy. One sure fire way to help people feel welcome is put a drink in their hand. Double points for an alcoholic beverage. Sometimes I would gladly accept an alcoholic drink and sometimes I would feel obliged to say “yes”. I thought I couldn’t say “no”. I wanted to be polite, take part in the festivities and not look like the boring non-drinker. Then I would feel obliged to drink it, because I didn’t want to waste a lovely glass of champagne.

When we tell ourselves that those expectations are compulsory and we have no control over it, we feel OBLIGED. We end up feeling frustrated, powerless and resentful. Sometimes we even blame others, in this case we give away all our power to the person we are blaming.

The truth is, we always have a choice, we can say “no”. In fact this is what I learned to do. I can say “no” without feeling guilty or terrible about myself because I say “No thank you” from a place of love. I’m taking care of me, I’m appreciating the generosity of the person offering, but I am confident that I don’t want it. I can decide that I can take part in the festivities and even be the life of the party, without the alcohol, if I want to be.

When we realise that the obligation is actually self imposed we take our power back. We can say “no” from a place of love or we can say “yes” and own it. Either way we get to feel so much better.

Do you feel obliged to eat certain things at Christmas? If there are times when you would rather say “no”, ask yourself how you could say “no” from a place of love. Do that!