Every year as is custom, Americans take this time to let loose and enjoy: the parties, the drinks, the food, the socializing and the spending. It’s no wonder we embrace this ‘most wonderful time of the year.’ It is a season for indulgence and consumption, giving and receiving.
We all know the joy both giver and receiver feel when a thoughtful gift is exchanged. It’s a way to acknowledge people we love, care about and perhaps with whom we work.
For many people, however, the impulsivity and free-for-all approach to the holidays yields beginning the New Year in a hole. With extra pounds to lose and credit cards to pay off—the stress and anxiety is like a hangover that lasts for months. And in spreading too much joy in the form of gifts—we end up feeling far from joyful when it’s all over.
There are many reasons why people go overboard at holiday time: we get carried away, big discounts are too tantalizing to resist and the goodies wrapped up in bows are so alluring —we are suckers for marketing and holiday music. And spending can certainly create a high for anyone struggling with feeling low. (another article entirely)
But beyond that, there are underlying emotional reasons driving holiday over-consumption.
When we doubt ourselves, feel insecure and unworthy we are missing an essential connection with ourselves. We may not actually know who we are, and if we do—we don’t love and accept who we are, as we are. This ruptured primary relationship with our self, drives behavior and actions that misrepresent who we are.
The lie we believe is that we are not enough; good enough, smart enough, wealthy enough… and our outward expression of who we are in the world is an unconscious attempt to keep anyone from seeing what we see in ourselves.
So, we feel obligated to buy gifts for neighbors, teachers and acquaintances. We feel the need to impress upon people that we are thoughtful and generous. And we believe buying many gifts or an expensive gift says ‘I love you’ that much more.
Giving what we don’t have to give, whether that is time, energy or money and then suffering because of it, is how we reinforce the belief that we are not enough. We deplete our resources, don’t express ourselves honestly and directly and then feel resentful or taken advantage of. And, we are not showing up in our lives with transparency and authenticity.
So, this holiday season take a personal inventory. Who are the most important people in your life? How much do you really have to spend? Is there a better way to express your love and appreciation than a gift? Heartfelt words, time spent together and creating memories are extremely effective and relationship validating.