It’s that time of year again when we’re expected to be full of joy and good cheer!

As adults we try hard to recreate the magic of Christmas from memories of past childhood experiences. Sharing happy times with the people we care about most, receiving gifts, eating and playing. As Children we’re free of the pressure to prepare the perfect lunch, buy the perfect gift, or worry about anyone else’s happiness which means we can enjoy the day without expectation. Those strong feelings of happiness remain with us forever and as we get older the innate generosity within us means that we want to re-create those same lovely feelings for our loved ones.

There’s no doubt that Christmas can be a wonderful opportunity to have a break from everyday pressure and to have some free time to catch up with friends and family. For many women, trying to recreate the perfect magical Christmas for the people close to us causes a lot of stress and anxiety. We put in an extraordinary amount of time and energy in the weeks (and sometimes months) ahead and the fear of disappointing others can make us tired, irritable and resentful. When the holiday eventually arrives we try so hard to make other people happy, it becomes a chore rather than a warm, connected, happy time.

How often does the fear of not living up to other peoples expectations stop you from being happy?

Let go of the need to be perfect at Christmas

One of my recent clients was a man who had problems eating.  As a young child he was made to clear his plate of food by a “caring but anxious” parent who was worried that he wouldn’t be nourished and healthy.  The amount of food on his plate was too much and because he wanted to please his parents he became anxious at mealtimes which reduced his appetite further.  This soon became a pattern of behaviour (Pavlov’s dogs) when he saw food his appetite reduced and food became his enemy. As an adult, his caring but anxious wife and children wanted him to be nourished and healthy so they took over the job of “nagging”.

During our work together, my client has been able let go of this unconscious belief that food was his enemy which has enabled him to make behavioural changes and his eating patterns are improving which means his family are no longer nagging.

A young lady came to see me because she was unable to work due to anxiety.  She wanted to make her parents proud and have a successful high powered career but the pressure to please her parents put her under so much pressure that every time she went to an interview she experienced a panic attack. Her parents were naturally worried about her future and their attention was mainly focused on trying to stop the panic attacks.

During our work together my client has been able to let go of the unconscious belief that her parents were ashamed of her for having panic attacks and now realises that they love her unconditionally. We’re now working together using techniques that can help her to stay calm and the panic attacks are already becoming fewer and less severe.

Another of my rece