Feeling the Holiday Pressure: Beat the Cycle

Posted by Administrator | Octubre 10, 2018 | Blog

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…REALLY!!! What the hell? School just started and I just got done wrapping up summer and buying school supplies, for heaven’s sake!  Two seconds ago I was pleading with the gods of new starts that this will be the year that ‘I get it done better.’  I’m not ready to be slammed with another season. I can’t stand it! 

Every year it’s the same thing! This is the school year that we’ll get homework done peacefully and be more balanced. One month in and where are we? Licking our wounds and pissed off that our school year resolutions have crashed and burnt.

No sooner than we get over this, we get hit with Halloween and Thanksgiving. This year, this one will be different, until we find ourselves hanging over Cousin Joe, threatening to club him with the burnt, dry, turkey drumstick! Then comes Christmas and then the all too famous New Year!

Season after season, we promise. Resolution after resolution, we fail. Then we end up feeling like crap. Why is that? Why do we find ourselves in this cycle of season, resolution and failure? Then we get left holding the bag, wondering why we can’t break the cycle.


Here’s the problem. With the dawn of every season, the human brain is designed to seek change and to promise itself that it’ll be better, THIS TIME. However, every seasonal resolution focuses on changing a behavior, we’re not actually looking at or changing what drives behavior! We think will power will win the day. We’re wrong. It’s not poor willpower that beats us, it’s our own brains!

Even though we don’t mean to, there’s a part of our brain, the brainstem, that we’re not aware of that is designed to react everytime we’re faced with a problem, a challenge or what I call a ‘Don’t Want.’ Don’t Wants are just stuff happening in life that we don’t want that’s not seasonal, but just life.

Our brainstems are designed to react, which creates failure. We react and without seeing or knowing it, we veer off course. A don’t want, a reaction, poor behavior- that’s the real cycle we need to break. We often can’t because we don’t know what’s happening. Our reactions are mostly hidden. We don’t see them, we don’t know they’re driving our behaviors and we don’t know they’re at the core of every broken promise to ourselves.

Bottom line, when we are faced with ‘Don’t Wants’ and trust me we are faced with a truck load of them all day long, season after season, our brainstems don’t care what we said we’d do this time. That promise was made from a different part of the brain, the top, the cortex which is reasonable and logical. Our brainstems yell ‘deal with NOW,’ and its only options are reactions. That’s why we misbehave, piss ourselves off and then wonder “why the hell did I do that?”. Blame it on Your brain…the brainstem to be exact.

The good news is that we can get around the brainstem. It doesn’t have to trap us in a cycle of broken promises to ourselves anymore. The key to this is first SEEING the sneaky ways that reactions show up .

It’s like seeing a cat burglar before he gets into your house. The moment you see him, he runs away. You’ve got to SEE the hidden ways that your brainstem drives you to react. Seeing is the most important step because, you can’t change what you can’t see! This season, don’t resolve to change a behavior, resolve to SEE your reactions so you can DO something different.

Once you can SEE the behaviors, you can use the principles of neuroplasticity to rewire how your brain manages ‘Don’t Wants’. Get past the brainstem to access your higher, more reasonable, logical self. Finally break the cycle of holiday pressure and failed promises to yourself. There is a WAY to do this




About Julia Harper

Julia Harper, PhD, MS, OTR/L (www.juliaharperinc.com) is CEO and founder of TheraPeeds Family Center, and an occupational therapist focused on creating brain-based therapeutic programs that tap into neural-plasticity, the brain’s ability to adapt and change. Her world-renowned therapy center offers a WAY to HOPE which merges her two models: HOPE (Harper’s Optimal Protocols for Enrichment), which focuses on re-wiring the brain of those with physiological, communication, learning and behavioral deficits and WAY (What About You), which retrains the brain to move beyond emotional and thought limitations. 


Dr. Julia Harper, PhD, MS, OTRL

TheraPeeds Family Center

5700 Griffin Road,

Davie Florida 33314

(954) 583-4484



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