Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over Christmas
Don’t beat yourself up this Christmas. It’s something that was brought home to me by my piano teacher the other day. He taught me a great lesson. It wasn’t a lesson in music; it was a lesson in life.
Arriving at the music lesson I felt despondent. That week it had struck home: I was never going to be a brilliant pianist. Indeed, becoming even a mediocre pianist seemed out of my grasp. Reaching my musical limits I felt frustrated and a failure.
After bemoaning my predicament my piano teacher then asked me to play. I plonked my way through the piece and turned to him with an, ‘I told you I’m hopeless,’ look.
It was then he said something that still resonates to this day.
“Liz,” he said sternly, “what exactly is your problem?”
I felt confused. I’d already told him the problem. It seemed I had reached the limits of my ability and there was little point continuing. I was never going to amount to much as a pianist.
“I’m just not very good,” I explained again. “I wonder if this grade four exam will be too tough for me.”
“Nonsense,” he responded. “You play well. Don’t forget, you’re not a professional pianist. To pass this exam you only have to play as competently as a grade four musician. I think you’re setting your expectations too high.”
On any other day those words might have passed me by. On that day, however, the truth rang through loud and clear. Of course! I only had to play as well as a grade four musician. I felt a weight fall off my shoulders.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up at Christmas
This is a useful lesson in the run up to Christmas. It can be an emotional hot-bed of expectations. We often want it to be unrealistically ‘perfect’. This year, why not, cut yourself a bit of slack.
If you’re in charge of cooking this Christmas – remember you don’t have to replicate Delia, or Jamie, or Nigella. You only have to be as good as someone who cooks Christmas dinner once a year. If you want to buy ready-made stuffing, potatoes and bread sauce – do it!
When buying presents remember you can’t be expected to get it ‘exactly’ right. You can only be as good as someone who buys Christmas presents once a year. If you don’t know what to buy a nephew or niece, rather than get anxious, why not send money instead. Or take them out as a treat instead.
When you’re buying the tree or decorating the house, remember this isn’t about replicating something out of the magazines. You only have to decorate the tree as well as someone who does this once a year.
This Christmas remember, perfection is impossible – good enough is good enough!