Holidays are a stressful time for all of us. We have to leave our normal routines, buy gifts for people, and spend time with people that we have a long history with. It’s true that holidays can be a great time to catch up and share in experiences with those who we love. However, it’s also true that it can also be a time where old feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and rivalry can kick up in our minds.

Feeling inadequate and questioning our worthiness and acceptance can spiral into a whirlwind of comparison. Comparing our gift purchases with others, seeing how we measure up to others, and proving our place in our families can all be issues that may wreak havoc on your holiday.

In order to have the best possible experience, measuring your authenticity at this time can be extremely powerful. Knowing the following can help you with this:

1. What do you want to do?
Knowing your motives about what events you want to participate in and your desired role in these events can help you recognize your own authenticity. Do you want to do what you are signing up to do? If not, why are you still doing it? This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do it, but knowing your motives can help you so that you don’t resent it in the process. It can also help to ensure that you’re not doing it to compete with someone else.

2. Gifts are not a contract.
You don’t owe anyone anything in the form of a gift during the holiday, and they don’t owe you anything either. If you want to buy someone something, do it more than for just the tradition itself. So often we buy gifts because of the expectation of the holiday tradition itself. Then we end up comparing our purchases with those of others in our families, or we compare with what we received.

3. Recognize sibling rivalry for what it is.
Know your place in your birth order and how this impacts how you feel. Recognize and accept what your jealous of. Monitor your actions and determine if they are reactions to these long-standing feelings. If you’re feeling really brave, you might even consider owning them in a discussion with that sibling.

4. Don’t give up your whole routine.
If you need some time to yourself, take it. If you want to exercise during your holiday, do it. Doing things that are true to what you want to do can help you stay in balance in a time that can throw our balance out of whack.

Holidays are a tricky balance to find and to remain authentic. Old relationships means that old feelings are bound to creep up. Staying aware of this is not easy, and it doesn’t even always feel good, but it feels better than the resentment you can end up feeling if you do not remain authentic during that holiday time. Therefore, pay attention to yourself, your feelings, and your motives, and you’ll move closer to having holidays with less stress, less apprehension, and more happiness.

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