Thanksgiving: The Shoulding Season Has Arrived

Thanksgiving… For so many it is a favorite holiday! Family travels long distance to get together, laugh, eat, commemorate…  There are traditional activities and traditional foods. This is the coveted time of the year. 

For so many others, however, this is anything but true. Thanksgiving is the beginning of the depression season. Family avoids each other, or get together to fight and commiserate. Family, for them, is not a place of safety and warmth, but of intense conflict and painful memories. This season is a reminder of struggles, loneliness, and disappointments. 

In both scenarios, the holiday season has begun and the shoulding season is open for business. Shoulding often gets out of control during this time of year. Regardless of whether you have the family in the first scenario, or in the second scenario, or somewhere in between, some shoulding is likely to happen.

Shoulding is that behavior connected to the sentence starter  "I or we should or should not”….”She or he should or should not”. Behind shoulding behaviors are a lot of hidden rules and un-communicated hopes. Shoulding leads to expectations that you put on yourself and others. Many of these expectations are not recognized, are not communicated, and are not realistic. They put a lot of stress on the individuals who are being should upon and they steal from the joy of this time of year. Shoulding creates a lot of busyness, and causes a lot of arguments, disappointments, feelings of failure, and feelings of anger. 

Action Step: Remember what is important about this season. Avoid making long “to do” lists and focus on longer “to be with” lists. Don’t assume everyone is as blessed as you are to have family, and loved ones to reach out to during the holiday season. This season is special because of the relationships we can grow, not because of the gifts we can give. Reach out to someone who may be alone and offer the gift of friendship  because this will truly make a holiday one worth coveting.