This past week I was supposed to speak to the New Orleans NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) to provide tips on how to maintain our health and peace in the chaos of the holiday season. A topic right up my alley, particularly as my latest book is “Seven Sundays to Sweet Inner Serenity: How to cultivate the calm even in the midst of the crazy chaos.”
I wanted to make sure that I addressed the issues that the audience wanted to hear, as opposed to imposing my own agenda or self-promotion, so I posted a few queries to my friends, my team at Infinite Health Integrative Medicine Center, and social media followers and they answered by suggesting the five questions I answer below.
But first, guess what happened.
The self-proclaimed Queen of “I Am Infinitely Healthy” (Hint: yours truly) got hit with a debilitating case of strep throat the morning of that talk. A ton of bricks might as well have dropped down on me from the sky, because (a) that’s what it felt like, and (b) I did not see that coming… at all. In fact, even as I write this, I am still recovering.
On a positive note, I have literally lost five pounds. On another positive note, I got to practice what I preach…self-care and self-love, even in the most inconvenient of times and here is how you can too.
The Five Questions
1. What role, if any, does self-care and self-compassion play in the “Giving Season?”
Tending to our own self-care and self-compassion is not to be thought of as grandmother’s holiday china, only to be pulled out on special occasions, but rather it is a daily imperative. T. Harve Eker, author of “Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the inner game of wealth (2005),” is quoted as saying, “…we cannot give that which we do not have.” It’s not a particularly deep thought, but it is a truth that is consistently ignored.
I would submit that the most egregious of offenders are high-achieving business women and mothers. A lot of us have bought into this bullshit idea that our value and our worth somehow increase when we over-extend our energies to alarmingly self-depleting, self-sacrificing measures in the name of someone or something else (a/k/a the kids, organizations, churches, bosses, friends, family, non-profits, etc.).
Our value and our worth are in no way entangled with this kind of martyrdom. In the words of the famous TV psychologist, Bob Newhart, “Just stop it.”
Consider what self-care and self-compassion mean to you. If you started elevating your personal, mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health higher than you already do, does that make you feel guilty? If so, contemplate on why that may be, and what you think would actually happen if/when you begin to release yourself from that guilt and start engaging in more and more self-care and self-compassion.
Your fear may be that others who enjoy, expect, or rely on your energies will somehow receive less from you, but I’m going to promise you that the more you honor yourself, the more you will actually have to give to others.
2. Many women are constantly balancing full plates during most of the year, and it can seem as though during the holidays those plates become even more loaded, particularly when adding in additional various social events, school parties for the kids, Christmas shopping, perhaps traveling out of town or hosting guests or family members who come in for the holidays. How can we realistically manage all of this and still maintain our health and our peace?
This is a great question. I myself have a tendency to load up on various obligations and responsibilities, like I’m standing in line at a buffet of limited offering desserts. It’s ridiculous.
For example, I was slotted to speak, it had been advertised, the agenda and roles of the players were set, and the event was in motion. Three hours before the event it was becoming more and more clear that I could not swallow, my throat hurt so bad, and talking was becoming more and more painful as well.
So there I am grappling with a thought process that went something like this:
I feel like shit, but I should see this through, I am, after all a woman of integrity.
What if they don't believe I'm actually sick?
I said I would do a thing and I have a responsibility to do it.
My ear really hurts when I swallow.
I wonder if this thing is contagious.
How did this happen to me?
Why am I a vibrational match to this nastiness?
People are counting on me.
If I don’t go, what are they going to say about me?
I’ll look like a fake…worse, a flake. I can’t stand flakes.
They’ll never ask me to speak again.
It’s seems hypocritical to try and talk about self-care when I’m clearly dying.
I wonder if magic mouthwash would help….
And then I asked the more important questions and allowed myself to trust my intuitively guided responses.
- If I go to this event in this condition what value am I really offering?
- Can I speak about the importance of self-care when I’m clearly not practicing it in this moment?
- Who am I really honoring by sacrificing my health, and possibly the audience’s health by doing this?
By the end of it all, it became clear to me that it was just my ego trying to guilt and shame me into standing up and trying to speak when my body was telling me it was time to get over it and get into bed with antibiotics.
Hopefully, you don’t have to go through this sort of extreme mental – physical tug of war every time you look down and see you have too many things on your plate.
The key here is to look at all you’ve signed up for, tell the ego to take a back seat, and ask yourself exactly what is your motivation for saying yes to A, B, C, etc.? Will you be showing up as the best version of you? Are you giving AND receiving value by engaging in A, B, C, etc.?
Your intuitively guided answer is the first response that comes to you within the first three seconds of posing the question. Anything longer than those three seconds and your mind/ego has started to work its manipulation. If the answers you’re receiving begin to feel like guilt, shame, and/or are fear-based, that is not your soul speaking and it’s time for a do-over.
3. One of the most common issues women struggle with during the holidays is the “need” to meet other people’s expectations, and perhaps even their own self-imposed expectations. How can we begin to release ourselves from this so that we can better relax into and enjoy the season?
I touched on this in the first two answers above, but I want to add to it the imposition of expectations (those that are self-imposed, as well as others), and the loving power reclamation of defining and honoring our boundaries.
I remember annually stressing out about “having to” alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas between my parents, my mother’s side of the family who host their annual holiday party, my husband’s family who were…gosh…at least a twelve hour drive north, plus the demanding expectations of his mother. Add to that the expectations of gifts for people you may or may not see more than once a year, much less have a clue as to what to get them that they would actually appreciate. As the families grew, and my own family grew, the imposition of everyone else’s attendance requirements, meal contributions, and gift exchange expectations became downright stressful and needless to say unpleasant, not to mention expensive!
When my husband and I started to consider how we independently desired to spend our holidays, our entire holiday agenda changed. For one, we no longer buy in to the obligatory "gift-giving" to relatives that we don’t see on a regular basis; instead we may (or may not) send a family gift. We may (or may not) choose to travel and if we do, it’s on our terms, what is reasonable for our schedule and what we actually know that we will enjoy.
Does this disappoint others? Maybe it does, maybe it does not, but we are each responsible for our own happiness and joy. It is not our responsibility to ensure everyone around us is peachy-keen, particularly not at our own expense.
If it makes you happy shopping for and acquiring presents for people you don’t know, do it. If it makes you happy alternating holidays and traveling across states to various friends' and family members' homes, accepting all invitations, do it. If it makes you happy hosting the holidays in your home, do it. If it does not, don't. It is safe and good to experience the holidays on your terms. <--- Repeat that until you believe that because it is true.
With respect to meeting your own expectations, show up as the best version of you for yourself first, then for others. If you fall short of showing up as the best version of you, love and forgive yourself anyway. It is okay. If you have to work during the holidays, it sucks, but you are not alone and keep the faith that the situation is temporary. If you feel like you can never give enough (I struggle with this too), dig deep into that – what is the root issue of that and ultimately does it matter?
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say, LeNae, you really did not give enough. What arse would really say such a thing? No one, because no one’s worried about what I give or don’t give, they’re all either worried they themselves didn’t give enough, or they’re wondering why no one is throwing a parade in their honor for all of their self-sacrificing and over-doting (seeking external validation a whole other issue).
Self-compassion rules when it comes to releasing ourselves from all the expectations.
4. How do we intentionally design the holiday season we really desire to experience?
You may believe that intentionally designing the ideal holiday season is impossible; after all everyone has their own agenda when it comes to how the holidays are to be properly experienced, right? Let's talk Intentional Daydreaming.
Repeat after me: “What we think about we bring about.”
If you are forward thinking (like I am), and you feel like you can reasonably anticipate the stressors and chaos of the upcoming holidays based on historical experiences (like I do), you are in the perfect position to shift this shite.
Why? Because you know what you don’t want, and knowing what you don’t want is powerful information if you harness it to your advantage.
How do you do that? By daydreaming on purpose, of course.
Let's be clear, no one can do this for you. You must become aware of the runaway train of your thoughts. Observe yourself thinking and the thoughts you are thinking. I’ve yet to find the universal remote or easy button to push for this, it’s really just going to be up to you setting the intention to become aware of the thoughts you have when you are having them, and acknowledging when those thoughts are not serving you, or in alignment with the reality you desire to create; you have to halt the brain train. I do this by deliberately saying “Shit.”
Yes, it's highly sophisticated and elegant, I know, but "Shit" is the code word for realizing you’re on a mental downward spiral of anticipating all of the things on your holiday plate that you don’t actually want; all of the in-laws’ weird demands and expectations, all of the shopping traffic, extra expenditures, crowds, food, parties, what to wear, when and how to decorate the picture perfect tree, plus planning for and taking those picture perfect family holiday cards….” I hear you. Now you hear you. Stop the train.
Now you redirect and re-engage with what you really, really want.
You are now in control of your brain train. So, what do you want for Thanksgiving? Where do you want to spend it, really? In your own home hosting because you love to cook and you desire bringing everyone to you? At your mom’s because she still does everything for you and all you have to do is bring the wine? At Luby’s (that’s a thing, right?) because there’s no 5 hour frozen bird to thaw and baste, plus there’s no clean up afterwards?
Who do you really want to spend Thanksgiving with? Just your friends because your family is toxic, or they're amazing but still a million miles away? Working because Holla at the double time pay? With (or without) your siblings? Perhaps you just want to be alone with you mate?
What activities, if any at all, are you engaged in? Are you sleeping in? Are you up at 4:00 a.m. checking on that turkey? How does the house smell? Like apples and cinnamon, like pie? Like Febreeze? Is it cozy, airy, mountain-fresh?
Mentally, emotionally, psychically step-in to the picture of what the perfect Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, heck, even New Years, looks like to you. Engage all the senses, all the feels of what you desire. Do this every day from now until you wake up that holiday morning and trust and know that you are the creator of your holiday.
5. What is one quick tip for quickly shifting out of stress and anxiety?
It doesn't sound particularly elegant, but my “Shit, Shift and List" process is my number one multi-purpose go to quick tip for shifting out of any stress and anxiety. When I NOTICE <-- Awareness is Key-- that I’m having anxiety over anything, I say “Shit.”
Because, if I’m having anxiety, it means that my mind has taken me into the non-serving mental zone of “What if [fill in the negative blank]. A lot of people get sucked into this zone and just keep digging deeper and deeper in. But I am here to tell you, this place does not love you, nor does it actually solve a dern thing for you.
So, to turn it around you must, must first become aware of the status of your brain train and pull the brakes by saying “Shit.”
Now make the decision to shift that train in opposite direction.
By very deliberately listing each and every person, place, thing, experience for which you are GRATEFUL. It is as impossible to be simultaneously be in a state of stress and anxiety and in a state of gratitude at the same time. Impossible. You are more than welcome to try and prove me wrong, but you won’t because you can’t.
It’s kind of like that Time Cop space-matter rule…. “The same matter cannot occupy the same space.” I was going to include the video clip to show you what happens on the physical molecular level when you try to remain anxious and grateful at the same time, but it was ‘90’s level gross, so look it up at your own discretion.
1. Self-care and self-compassion are imperatives. Period.
2. Ask the questions and trust your intuitive answers (3 seconds rule).
3. Release all the expectations and confidently embrace self-loving boundaries.
4. Daydreaming on purpose creates your holiday reality.
5. Shit, Shift & List all those people, places, things, and experiences that you are so thankful and grateful for.
So, there you have it, Five Ways to Maintain Your Health and Peace Even in the Chaos of the Holiday Season. I hope you found the information helpful and empowering. If you did, or if you have additional questions comment below!
And, thank YOU so much for taking this time for yourself. <3
Somewhere between graduating from Tulane University Law School, and completing Duke University Integrative Medicine Center's Leadership Development program, LeNae completed her universal laws centric coaching studies and honed her intuition under the guidance of one of MindValley.com's top global intuitive experts.
LeNae co-authored Empower Your Life, an anthology written with 19 other amazing ladies, and with her husband, Trip Goolsby, MD, she co-authored Empowered Medicine: Harnessing the Laws of the Universe for Optimized Health. Her most recent offering, Seven Sundays to Sweet Inner Serenity recounts the steps LeNae personally took to overcome a deep-seated desire to take revenge on those she blamed for creating one the most difficult experiences of her adult life.
LeNae resides in New Orleans, Louisiana with her husband, and their children, affectionately referred to as IV and Huck.