Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Top 10 Holiday Shoulds

The Top 10 Holiday "Shoulds" (and Permission to Let them Go)
by Christine Kane

Do you know the "Shoulds?" Those voices that occasionally creep around your head telling you that things aren't as good as they could be and that everything would be better if you behaved well?


Well, you're not alone. We all go there from time to time. Some of us spend our every waking moment "shoulding" on ourselves!

In the work I do, I know one thing to be true about this time of year:

The Holiday Shoulds are a special breed of Should. The Holiday Shoulds are loud and insidious. If you're not conscious, they can make you believe that they're a rational way to think.

After all, during the holidays, people become almost hypnotized into believing that every moment should be a certain way, that every yard should look a certain way, that every family should behave a certain way - and that it's okay to beat themselves up for their own preferences or for not keeping up with the imaginary standard.

Here's a list of the Top Ten Holiday Shoulds, along with a thought or two about simply letting them go, and delighting in this moment. In the words of Byron Katie: "When I argue with What Is, I lose. But only 100% of the time."

1 - I should have a new outfit to wear to the Christmas party!

Last year's outfit is fine. Your shiny happy self tells a brighter story than something you bought at a store.

2 - I should have done hand-made Christmas cards! (Or, I should've done Christmas Cards at all!)

Relax. If you had time to delight in making cards, that would be great. But it's okay that you didn't. And as for not sending cards, you can send them out next year. (Or, be like my brother's family and send out Valentine Cards instead!)

3 - My kids/parents should behave differently!

Everyone is doing the best they can. What would happen if you simply accepted each person's path and choices - and let them be exactly where they are?

4 - I should've bought more expensive presents!

When gifting becomes about competition or keeping up, then it just drains you. Take a moment to remember who you are and how you want to love the people in your life. Nothing beats authenticity.

5 - I should go out and buy more [insert useless consumer good or processed food here.]

When you nervously become a consumer for no reason, challenge yourself to sit down, listen, and experience the emptiness. You might find that it's actually quite peaceful in there!

6 - I should've lost weight this year!

Become a champion of yourself. Make a list of five great things you accomplished this year, and let go of those things you didn't. You can revisit them in January.

7 - The Holidays should look more like the pretty scenes in a snow globe or on Christmas specials!

The cool thing about snow globes and such is the happy feeling they create inside of you. Instead of thinking everything should make you feel that way, try to capture the feeling you get from those things - and then carry that feeling to each moment in your life. I call this Positive Daydreaming.

8 - I should've made [Insert time-consuming baked good featured on Martha Stewart]!

See #5.

And remember that Martha Stewart has a very large staff. And that there's rarely a shortage of sugary baked items during the holidays.

9 - My house should have better decorations!

See #8.

And go take a nap.

10 - I should make better scrapbook pages after the holidays!

Doing good scrapbooks does not make you a good mother, sister, daughter or friend. Doing good scrapbooks makes you someone who has time to scrapbook. If you use photo-boxes or boring albums, you're still a wonderful human, and we'll all still love you.


11 – It should be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Christmas is lovely with all of its twinkle lights and confectionary goodies, AND there are many wonderful times each year. (I happen to love each and every time I hike in the woods, no matter what time of year it is!)

Wonderful is about your delight and how you feel on the inside. When you let go of what is not authentic delight for you, then you might be surprised at how simple the holidays become. You might find that wonderful is right here in this very moment.

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 8,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at
See Christine's blog - Be Creative. Be Conscious. Be Courageous - at


sherry ♥ lee said...

Thanks for sharing this great article Snap!!!

I hate the word "should" and have done everything in my power to eliminate it from my vocabulary!

I'm loving doing what feels right this holiday season!!! :)

Janet said...

I think the "shoulds" sneak into everyone's realm this time of year. But the best "should" is we should all be thankful for what we already have!

Kim Mailhot said...

Well put, Janet ! And thank you, Snap for this article that echoes what is in my heart and in the heart of many people I know this year. Let go of the shoulds and celebrate the "are's".

Big Love to you and Mr Dragon...

dosfishes said...

I took the word should out of my vocabulary this fall and so far
it has not crept back.

Simplify and enjoy, that's my motto
for this season.


Janice said...

I love this. Thanks for sharing it, it's exactly how i feel!

julochka said...

i'm really making an effort to shed the christmas shoulds this year and just be. it's work so far and it's quite liberating! keeping my fingers crossed that i can keep it up!!!

Lissa said...

As always I get inspiration from you, Snap:)That is a great list. I have been feeling some anxiety(haven't shopped, sent out cards, etc) Time for me to lightnup:) Thanks for lighting a candle for me/my sis this Sunday. It means a lot.

Barb said...

Good reminders, Snap! I mostly have made peace with all of these - it's my age, I guess...

Stine in Ontario said...

Great reminder to keep our priorities straight.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Great post, Snap.... We all have those "I should've's" in our lives --don't we????? I should've LOST that weight. I should've saved that money--instead of buying something I truly didn't need. ETC.ETC.ETc.......

The best thing is to say them--and then let them go...

LOVE it!!! Thanks.

nonizamboni said...

Wow could I identify with every 'should' listed! [loved #9] Makes me glad that a bit of umm, maturity, is paying off.
Thanks for sharing from your own dear heart :O)

KarenHarveyCox said...

Brillilant! This year I have drowned out the list of shoulds so that I can enjoy the holidays. I am doing whatever I can, wishing that I could do all those things on your list, but knowing that in order to not be overwhelmed, I have put my blinders on.


A Palmer said...

I love this! Boy, do we do these to ourselves. I am guilty of "should" (and did) buy a new Christmas outfit for the dept. party. It was a boring party after all and all I can say for myself is that at least I didn't go nuts and buy something I can't wear to work later. And I did!

Sarah said...

Yes yes yes!!! I totally agree with each and every one!!!