How to Create Connection During the Holidays (Hint: It's not about the gifts!)

Today, what I would like to talk to you about is what to do if you feel like you're getting caught up in the holiday gift giving craze, and how that actually creates more disconnection and loneliness in an inadvertent way and what you can do about it.

So if that is you, if you are running around for last-minute gifts right now, I want you to just take a moment, it's only going to be a couple of minutes, watch this video through to the end and find out what you can do to create more connection in your life and less disconnection .

Focusing on Gifts and Things Creates Disconnection

I read a quote recently by Garry Tan, who is the co-founder of Posthaven, and it really struck me because I've been caught up in this last minute gift buying, and holiday planning, and baking. And in my frenzy to buy the perfect gifts for my friends and my family members, etc, it has taken all of the joy and love and connection of gift giving out of the process. It's just like, "Oh, I need to buy this, and I need to get this person that and check this off my list," etc. So when I read this quote, it really struck me. And what he says is,

"We don't really want things. We want the feelings we think those things will give us."
-Gary Tan

Ironically, We Are Trying to Avoid Loneliness & Disconnection

So often it's not about the latest tech gadget or the outdoor gear, whatever it is. It's about what we think we're going to feel like when we either receive that gift or when we give that gift to someone else. And so a lot of the times we get kind of lost as we focus so much on getting the perfect gift that we don't realize that what we're trying to do is fill a hole in ourselves. This comes up with my clients in individual therapy all the time.

Maybe it is a hole of loneliness, and we think that this gift will distract us or that it will entertain us or something else. Maybe it is some other hole, there's all different kinds of holes that we try to fill with buying things. If you check out my video from last week, I talk about how we oftentimes fill those holes with food, or we avoid things using food. So sometimes we do it with food, and this week I'm talking about gifts and things, becasue…tis the season.

So like I said, maybe it's the latest Apple product, or tech gadget, or computer program, or Xbox game, whatever it is. Maybe it is the newest piece of Gortex outdoor gear that has this feature and that feature and some other thing. Or maybe it's a new purse or a new outfit or a new haircut, or any number of things like that. We get so caught up in chasing the things that we forget what the purpose of those things are. And in doing this, we create this disconnection, which is exactly the opposite, most of the time, of what we are trying to do. Because so often, underneath, the purpose is to create connection between ourselves and someone else, or maybe it's just connection to ourself.

Disconnection Creates Suffering

It's like Brené Brown talks about all the time in her books and TED talks.

“We are hardwired for connection to others, it's what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.”
-Brene Brown

And so when we disconnect by focusing on the things, we create this distance between us and someone else and that creates the suffering, that creates the loneliness.

We forget the fact that maybe the reason that we want the latest tech gadget is because it's going to make it easier for us to connect with our loved ones. It makes it so that we can video chat with someone else that we love and that we miss. Or the latest piece of outdoor gear, the whole point of outdoor gear is so that we can get outside and connect and appreciate the great outdoors, Mother Nature. Or maybe the new purse or the new outfit or the new haircut, it makes us feel fresh or attractive, so maybe we're trying to create connection by attracting a mate. Or maybe we want to fit in by having xyz brand. Again, it's about the connection that we have with another human being, not about the actual thing itself.

If You Feel Lonely During the Holidays…

Maybe you are noticing that you are feeling really lonely this holiday season, either because you are actually alone and separated from your loved ones, maybe you live in a different state like I do, or maybe you get that feeling of being alone in a crowd, where you're around other people but you feel so disconnected from them that it just doesn't have the effect that you want it. Maybe you got all of the gifts, and you checked everything off your list, but after all of the tearing through the presents and the gift giving frenzy is over you feel no more connected to the people that you shared the gifts with than you did before.

If you notice that that's happening for you, I want you to slow down as you're in this gift giving frenzy. Maybe it's Christmas Eve and you're trying to find the right gift for this person or that person or whatever it is, and I want you to just pause and ask yourself what could you do to create a genuine moment of connection?

Maybe it's not getting them the perfect gift. Maybe it is making them a homemade gift, because perhaps you don't have a lot of money right now to spend on all the latest tech gadgets. Homemade gifts speak to connection, and they create that bond between people. They show that we care.

Maybe it's just to pause and stop the gift buying frenzy and to go to this person who you love and acknowledge how much you care about them and that you just got caught up in all of the frenzy, and you didn't have time to buy them a gift yet, but what you'd like to do is take them out for coffee or for dinner and have that real moment of connection.

Or maybe it is if you're trying to buy the right outfit for your holiday party. Just stop and acknowledge that what you're really trying to do is impress other people to create a connection. Instead, what if you brought your less-than-perfect self, and showed that to other people. And then maybe they'd go, "Oh!" and they'd let their less-than-perfect self show, and you create the connection that way.

So if loneliness and disconnection are things hat you're struggling with, I would recommend any of those strategies.

If you want to stop feeling lonely and create more connection in your life…

Psychotherapy and Coaching Can Help Build Connection

If you’ve read through this whole article and are thinking, “Okay, whatever Becky! That’s just not going to fly with my family or in my workplace” or whatever…that’s alright. I know that oftentimes the reason we get caught up in the gift-giving frenzy and all the other holiday stress is because we feel trapped in a culture, in patterns, that don’t work for us. And oftentimes those patterns are bigger than just us.

If you would like some help shifting out of those patterns and learning new ways to stop feeling lonely and start creating true, genuine connection in your life…reach out and schedule a free consult call. I’d love to talk to you about the things that are getting in the way of connection in your life and how we can work together to create more satisfaction and connection for you.


For more information on how individual psychotherapy or coaching can help you stop feeling lonely and disconnected and create more connection in your life, check out the Individual Therapy & Coaching page.