Fifteen Quick Reminders To Help You Make It Through The ‘Holidaze’

photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Flickr, CC
photo courtesy of Jim Lukach, Flickr, CC

1  You’re not too sensitive if you’re easily overwhelmed by the holiday muzak, the florescent lights, the crowds, the frenetic meaningless pace, the likely psychopathic Santa and the smell of stale popcorn at the shopping mall.

2  You’re not a failure as a human being if your siblings went to Stanford and are all doctors and have two and a half kids and you’re still wondering what to do when you grow up because you took a detour into drug treatment and psychotherapy because your soft heart and gentle spirit needed to heal.

3  You’re not lacking in empathy if you’re frustrated and irritated, well, OK, enraged by society’s focus on the status of having more and more stuff, the bigger the better, while they’re oblivious to the impact of said stuff.

4  You’re not socially inept or paranoid if you have to abruptly leave a gathering of people who seem happy and charming and delightful but who make your stomach ache because unbeknownst to your conscious mind, they’re really miserable.

5  You’re not an arrogant know-it-all if you choose to wrap the kids’ gifts in newspaper, or if you give your precocious nieces homemade light switch plates instead of Barbie dolls, or if you choose funding a homeless family over yet another plastic giraffe for your adorable nephew.

6  You’re not a bad daughter/son if you have mixed feelings about attending the family event and if you make a plan to leave early when your alcoholic relative starts to berate you about your political or religious beliefs or about why you didn’t go to Harvard when you had so much potential.

7  You are not being inauthentic if you consciously avoid certain topics with family members who you know will react with anger or misunderstanding to your attempt to explain, say, your logical reasons for changing your college major for the fifth time.

8  You’re not too persnickety if you start your own holiday rituals and don’t allow your toddler to watch reality TV, use your iPad, or learn how to operate a cell phone.

9  You’re not a failure as a parent if your holiday meal is a flop, if your kids throw their biggest tantrums ever just when the grandparents arrive, if you still haven’t gotten your hair cut or trained your dog not to beg for food.

10  You’re not an oddball if you question the traditions, religion or the obsession with television that organizes your extended family members. Well, maybe you are an oddball in that regard but there are times when oddballs are needed. This might be one of those times.

11  You’re not rude and obsessive if you are still avoiding eating the jello marshmallow carrot salad that your Aunt Gracie always makes.

12  You’re not too dramatic if you cry when your relatives tease you, well, OK, bully you, because you’re following yet another career path, you’ve stopped straightening your hair and you’re still single.

13  You’re not too intense if you can’t totally enjoy the holiday because people around the globe are suffering, the ice caps are melting and you’re distracted by your need to find and manifest your purpose on the planet.

14  You’re not too idealistic if you believe that it’s still possible for a transformation to occur where the peoples of the world embrace compassion over fear.

15  You’re not alone if you dread the stresses of the holiday season and look forward to the end of said season. And, you’re not wrong if you understand the following to be true: You are successfully sensitive, effervescently empathetic, indescribably intense, awesomely authentic, prudently persnickety, illustriously idealistic, and resplendently rainforest-minded. (And, hey, when you get a chance, could you send me the recipe for Aunt Gracie’s jello marshmallow carrot salad?)


To my bloggEEs: Tell us what the holiday season is like for you. If you have coping strategies for the challenging times, let us know what they are. And, if you have totally joyous experiences during the holiday season, we love you, too! Oh, and the 16th reminder, my book would make a great gift for your teens, your friends, your parents, your therapist, your sensitive Uncle Phil, and your sweet self.

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

33 responses to “Fifteen Quick Reminders To Help You Make It Through The ‘Holidaze’”

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  6. Dorothy Avatar

    Dear Paula: Thanks for another illuminating and helpful post. You touched on the majority of the myriad ways that I judge myself in the face of what others seem to perceive for themselves and our society. In one of the recent posts, there was a mention of suggestions for future topics. I was wondering if it would be appropriate to discuss ways for owning the positive versions of those traits. If it is covered in another post or in your book (which is amazing), I would appreciate a reminder reference to those resources if possible for the blog. I truly appreciate the quality and tone of your writing. Thank you.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I think this is a great idea for a blog post, Dorothy. I’d say that it’s talked about in my book but not necessarily specifically addressed. So I will think about it and start writing! Look for it. Maybe soon!

    2. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’m working on it now, Dorothy and expect to send it out tomorrow. (Friday) It may not be exactly what you’re asking but I hope you find it helpful!

  7. Gabi Eyerman Avatar
    Gabi Eyerman

    Yep. In my attempt to mediate the consumer craze of the holiday, I sourced most gifts from local artists, crafters, and makers. I may have been up late knitting a purple elephant for the four year old. 🙂 The cross country drive to see family I haven’t seen in over five years has me a bit cranky but lots of knitting has kept me level. Enjoying my own childrennis my only goal, I will do my best not to let my mother make me cry. And if she does it’s ok.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing your strategies, Gabi. Good to hear from you!

  8. Mark V Avatar
    Mark V

    No HoliDaze drama for me this year. This Christmas I’m having a nice turkey dinner all alone. Wild Turkey, that is. 😛
    Happy Holidays!

    1. Mark V Avatar
      Mark V

      All kidding aside, the reason I have been spending Christmas alone for the past several years is precisely because of the HoliDaze.

      I used to see my family a few times per year, including the holidays. For years I was so caught up trying to put on a good act of being normal and drama-free that I failed to realize it all WAS an act, one entirely put on for my family’s benefit so that they were spared from facing an uncomfortable reality.

      At these gatherings no topic of conversation was off-limits except the one elephant in the room: me. If I had recently done another stint in the psych ward or a homeless stint, nobody in the family ever mentioned it, let alone dared ask me how I was really doing or if there was anything they could do to help.

      One Christmas Eve I was on the way to one of these gatherings when a voice in my head loudly exclaimed “HOLD IT MISTER! If none of these people can be bothered to even pretend that they care about you, then why the heck do you still pretend to not notice?!?”

      I got off the bus at the next stop and walked home. Nobody even called to ask why I hadn’t shown up. I think they knew.

      The holidays are now a lot less stressful after I decided to spare myself the trouble of all that phony baloney acting and look after myself.

      1. Paula Prober Avatar
        Paula Prober

        Oh, Mark. I’m so sorry it’s so painful in your family. Sounds like good self-care to stay away. When families are seriously abusive, that can sometimes be the only healthy choice.

        1. Mark V Avatar
          Mark V

          I don’t know whether I should be angry or shocked at what a pack of zombies they are.

          Whatever the case, self care is important. Speaking of which, that Wild Turkey is going be some good medicine. 🙂


  9. Beth Heinecamp Avatar
    Beth Heinecamp

    And I’m in a sticky place, aren’t I, because here I am criticizing others for their ‘fake persona’ while I consider one option which requires me to be ‘fake’ in the sense of providing a nonreason to leave the group.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      See my thoughts above, Beth. And thank you for being here and sharing.

  10. Beth Heinecamp Avatar
    Beth Heinecamp

    #4 intrigues me, and you are very insightful, Paula. I have experienced this EXACT same phenomenon, in which I feel like I am the only one who can see everyone’s fake persona. This is such a predominate experience during the holiDAZE and one which grates on my nerves but sometimes we have to stick it out…I end up weighing the options: 1) If I excuse myself now with a fake reason, I get to leave immediately (but then will have to deal with bull***t later on…) or 2) If I stay and endure the idiocy/hypocrisy, I won’t have to deal with the bull***t later on, but *will* have to continue deadening myself for 3 more hours. Yes, we often ‘see’ what others can’t.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      I’ve heard from many clients about the experience of sensing that something is wrong while everyone around you looks fine. Then you think you must be crazy since they all look so good. They may or may not be aware of having a “fake persona” or of the anxiety beneath their seeming perkiness. I wonder, though, it you decide to leave, and give a “fake” reason if, you are just choosing the best option for yourself at the time, and that’s OK. Being authentic isn’t necessarily saying everything you’re perceiving or feeling. There may be times when you need to be strategic and if you do it with compassion, maybe you don’t need to criticize yourself for it. Make sense?

      1. Beth Avatar

        Thank you especially for saying that being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean saying everything I’m perceiving…I really do have to analyze that for awhile… what is authenticity? I’m gonna ponder this! And thanks too re: criticizing myself. I do hold myself to extremely high standards, unreal standards, which I am starting to see as I step back a little bit to view things. Have a great day Paula!!

        1. Paula Prober Avatar
          Paula Prober

          Beth, I describe what I’m saying about authenticity in the Q & A part of this post that’s on intergifted. Here it is:

  11. tlross73 Avatar

    Thank you so much for this post! I dread this time of the year every year. Way to many events, trying to schedule events around everybody’s calendars that it just doesn’t make the season enjoyable. I try to block out all the stresses and focus just on my family. When things involve the extended family is where the craziness begins so my main focus is to make sure that my girls have a calm Christmas season and do special family things because those will be the things they remember, not all the extra stuff.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for sharing, This is such a challenging time of year for many folks. Focusing on “calm” makes so much sense.

  12. alohaleya Avatar

    This is such a wonderful post, thank you!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      You’re very welcome, alohaleya. Thank you for commenting!

  13. Lucinda Leo Avatar
    Lucinda Leo

    I love how much you’ve covered here in such a playful and relatable yet sensitive and thorough way. Thanks for another uplifting post!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Always happy to know that you’re here, Lucinda!

  14. Jens Lyon Avatar
    Jens Lyon

    I have adopted a “one thing at a time” method of getting through the holidays. One day, the “thing” might be a party. The next day, it might be a concert. On a day without a particular “thing” scheduled, I do my shopping. I don’t worry about the next “thing” until the current “thing” is over.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Great suggestion, Jen. Thank you!

  15. Judah First Avatar
    Judah First

    Why is it so much easier for us to beat ourselves up than give ourselves grace? I love this list! I need to read it every year. 🙂

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Yes to grace for ourselves! Thank you for commenting.

  16. litebeing Avatar

    Reblogged this on litebeing chronicles and commented:
    This is such a great post about supporting us proudly weird, strongly attuned empaths/lightworkers/INFJ or INFP types during the holidaze. With the exception of the “sinfully sensitive” description (maybe it’s meant to be tongue in cheek), I wish I had written it myself.

    thank you Paula for all you do in your practice and online here at WP.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Linda, for reposting this. Yes, “sinfully sensitive” was supposed to be “sinfully” in a good way. Like deliciously. Maybe “sweetly sensitive” would’ve been better! I so appreciate hearing from you.

      1. litebeing Avatar

        It is your post so you get to choose. 🙂 In any case, I really enjoyed your recommendations and will use them going forward with my clients and for myself.

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