By Margaret Paul, PhD
December 19, 2016
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Do the holidays and other family events or gatherings stress you out? Discover what might be the underlying cause of this stress and what to do about it.
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"OMG, I've got so much to do! How am I going to get all this done?" one of my clients said to me.

"What happens if you don't get it all done?" I asked.

"People will be upset with me."

"So are you stressing yourself out in order to meet others' expectations of you, instead of loving yourself?"

She looked at me stunned. "Yes, that's exactly what I'm doing. And that's what's making my stomach hurt. I'm not staying present with me at all, or even thinking at all about what's loving to myself. I just keep thinking that I have to do everything right so that my husband and my kids and my parents and my friends who are coming for Christmas won't be upset with me."

"So you are focused outside yourself trying to meet others' expectations instead of tuning into what you want and what feels right and loving to you – is that right? And that's making your inner child feel abandoned?"

"Yes! My inner child is completely left out and she doesn't like that at all. And I don't blame her. I'm not loving myself at all. I wonder why I do this?"

"There must be a good reason. When did you start to feel that you had to abandon yourself and focus on meeting others' expectations?"

"Oh that's clear. My mother always had rigid expectations of me and got angry with me when I didn't meet them. She still does this today."

"So are you telling your inner child that everyone is like your mother and that you have to meet all their expectations so they won't be angry with you and disappointed in you?"

"Yes, that is what I'm telling myself. And I know this isn't true. It's really just my mother who gets angry, but she gets angry anyway, even when I think I'm meeting her expectations! Wow! I've been doing this forever and it always completely stresses me out! Today I'm going to tune into what I want rather than what I think others want."

"How does that feel?"

"It feels great! It feels freeing and exciting! My inner child is excited about getting to do what she wants rather than forcing myself to do what I think others want."

Take a moment to think about how often you make your choices based on others' actual or imagined expectations.

This is a form of control and is the opposite of loving yourself. This holiday season, and in the coming year, see if you can shift your intent from getting others' approval and avoiding their disapproval, to loving yourself by tuning into how you feel and what you want.

It's takes courage to love yourself rather than trying to meet others' expectations, but the rewards are great. There is no joy and freedom in trying to meet others' expectations.

This year, give yourself the gift of becoming fiercely and relentlessly devoted to loving yourself. You might be very surprised at what happens. It's my experience that when I focus on what is on my highest good, I'm also supporting the highest good of all. You might find that when you genuinely listen to your own feelings, wants and needs, and take loving action on your own behalf, others are often actually appreciative rather than upset. Many people can feel the energy of people-pleasing and feel controlled by it, and may even go into resistance to you. But there is nothing to resist when you are genuinely loving yourself and sharing your love with others.

Author's Bio: 

Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a best-selling author of 8 books, relationship expert, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® process - featured on Oprah, and recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette. Are you are ready to heal your pain and discover your joy? Click here for a FREE Inner Bonding Course, and visit our website at www.innerbonding.com for more articles and help. Phone and Skype Sessions Available. Join the thousands we have already helped and visit us now!