10 Ways to Love and Take Care of Yourself This Holiday Season

While the holidays are advertised to bring us cheer, joy, and gifts, what many of us also end up with is a rack full of stress, guilt, and debt. Why? Because we listen to the negative voices in our head telling us to buy more, eat more, visit more and do more - when we are already stretched for time, money, and energy.

These self-sabotaging voices are the voices of your inner mean girls and inner bullies. Some call them the "inner critic," but they are way more personal than that! They are like the Grinch who stole Christmas. They too will steal the joy, peace, and happiness from your holidays!

You have to be smarter than these inner Grinches and take back your power this holiday season so you can really soak in the joy, connection, and celebration you deserve. The following are 10 ways you can outsmart your inner mean girl or inner bully. For more secrets to holiday happiness, get a download of a free "holiday rescue" call at www.innermeangirl.com.

1. Stop Worrying About What Others Think You can't be responsible for how everyone around you feels about how you live your life, so stop worrying about how your family, partner and friends will react to your choices and start getting real about how you feel about your life. Ask yourself, "How do I feel about …" Give yourself permission to put yourself first.

2. Do Things Because You Want To Throw away the big O, Obligation. Give up the gnarly G, Guilt. Make a commitment to do what you want this holiday season, even if that means you don't do what other people want or expect of you. If you do choose to do something you aren't so jazzed about, challenge yourself to do it from a place of love. Ask, "What is it about this action that does matter to me?" and act from that place. It's all about the attitude. You can choose to be a martyr and a victim, or you can choose to be happy.

3. Give Up The Image We all construct images of who we think we are and who we want the world to see, and then attempt to live up to them. Don't try to live up to other people's expectations, or for that matter, your unrealistic expectations either. If you're low on cash this year, be okay with that. If you aren't feeling super happy, don't put on a fake smile. Don't try to impress your guy's family or friends or fit into what everyone else is doing. Be yourself, exactly where you are right now.

4. Boldly Express Your Unique Spin On The Holidays
Want a Christmas wreath instead of a tree? Prefer Chinese food instead of a turkey? Celebrate Solstice instead of Christmas, but love to light candles at Chanukah? Like sending New Years cards and gifts vs. holiday cards? Tradition isn't always better, and it certainly doesn't always make you happy. Be bold enough to express the way you choose to interpret the holidays.

5. Know What Makes You Happy Stop trying to fit into the expectations and ideals that outside forces - society, family, work, friends - have said you should be in order to be successful, happy, and accepted this holiday and ask one really simple question, "What really makes ME happy?" Think about the times that you've been happiest during the holidays. Who were you being? What did you have? What were you doing? Do the same for your most unhappy times. Compare the two to your life today and notice the gaps.

6. Pay Attention To Your Emotions
We all have emotional triggers, things that set us off or that evoke an overly strong reaction, and the holidays are prime time for them to come up. Pay attention to situations that make you spin, get your mad factor going or that send you into a pool of suffering. Be the boss of your emotions by having and taking responsibility for them, and don't let them drive your life. Happiness is a choice (yes, even when a relative is driving you crazy.) Put yourself in situations that create happiness and remove yourself from conversations and experiences that don't.

7. Act On What You Know Will Make You Happy, Even If It's Hard
Putting your happiness first isn't always easy. It often requires going against what everyone else is doing or thinking. If you aren't true to what feels right for you (even if it doesn't fit the needs and sensibilities of other people) aren't you just selling yourself out? You always know what the best action is to take for you, it's just not always easy. Be committed to your happiness, even when it's scary, and even when other people don't like it.

8. Have An Opinion And Express It If you don't like the way things are going - like the plans your family is making or the way the holidays have created stress in the past - speak up. Know what you believe and don't be afraid to express it. Happy people have convictions that come from inside their souls, minds, and hearts. They know their truth and are willing to stand in it, even when what they have to say makes others uncomfortable. Know your truth deserves to be heard, just because you're you.

9. Let Others See You. Be Vulnerable.
Share your most real self with the people around you - family, friends, and colleagues - and let them see all of you. The strong, the weak, the self-assured, the self-doubter, the funny, and the serious. Have and show your emotions fully, from sadness, to happiness, to anger, and joy. When you keep the full range of you hidden, no one can know who you truly are, and that creates unhappiness. While it may feel scary to be vulnerable, you'll find that the more you show the real you, the more others will be willing to share their authentic self too, and the more connected and happy you'll be.

10. Don't Compare Yourself.
One of the fastest ways to rob yourself of your joy is to compare yourself to someone else, or to who you think you should be. Put yourself on a comparison diet over the holidays. Every time you find yourself thinking or saying a comparison, stop, change the channel in your head, and say something that you are grateful for in your life or something that you love about yourself. Ask your friends to do the comparison diet with you. You'll all be happier.

Written by Christine Arylo for YourTango.com.

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