I have to visit my in-laws. I have to go to that holiday party. I have to make sure I buy enough presents for my kids. I have to make my special cookies that everyone expects. I have to have my house clean before my guests arrive. I’m here to tell you that no, you DON’T have to.
However, you may CHOOSE to do those things. Everything is a choice. Often it may feel like you have no choice, but you do. Even though you may feel beholden to tradition, expectations of family and friends, or even your own expectations, you can always say no. Try it. Say “no.” An unapologetic, firm, pleasant “no.” How did that feel?
Did the world end?
If saying no (even though that is what you really want to say) is too painful or has too big of a perceived consequence, then understand that you are still making a choice. An obligation is simply a choice you wish you didn’t have to make.
Let’s look at the difference. Let’s say that you’re “on the hook” to travel in questionable weather to see extended family. You are tired from work and the holiday rush, but you feel like you should really go see family. You think to yourself “I have to visit family.” You realize you sound like Eeyore.
However, you can take exactly the same situation and create an entirely different energy around it. First, realize that this is a choice. Second, make a decision. There is power in the choice. The energy of “I have to visit family” is completely different than “I choose to visit family.” Try it and feel the difference. You may find yourself enjoying the holidays more.