Holidays - Serenity
Do you find holidays
to be re-invigorating, relaxing and refreshing?
Do you return
home feeling re-juvenated and with your batteries re-charged?
Or, is it just one
big headache and you can't wait to get back to "normal", sleep
in your own bed and slot back into a comfortable routine?
Holidays can be
challenging experiences. We step out of our normal environment with
the aim of a pleasurable experience. Our expectations are often set
by glossy brochures or travel programmes showing idyllic settings, beautiful
scenery or even the promise of adventures in wild places. But, are we
up to the reality of the challenges ahead or do we set ourselves up
for disillusionment and disappointment? How much excess baggage do we
take on holiday and how much do we bring back!
Reality can quickly
take the rose coloured glasses from the view of the "wild places"
when basic needs are delivered via "basic methods" - dig your
own toilet perhaps or carry your own trash!
Even if you opted
for a luxury villa in a tropical paradise, you might still find yourself
catering for the family, but without the familiar equipment or having
to use "foreign ingredients". Challenges come thick and fast.
From truculent children who will NOT eat anything but their favourite
brand of breakfast cereal, or from the intricacies of foreign plumbing
systems - such as what times of the day you can expect hot water (or
sometimes any water!).
Then there are the
"decision dilemmas" - a group of people on holiday trying
to make a collective decision about where they are going next is often
painful. As with all committees, the end result is usually a choice
that no-one particularly wanted but which had the least objections all
round. That's of course if you managed to make a decision in time to
go anywhere at all!
Add to that, cultural
and language differences and it is easy to feel like a fish out of water.
As expectations for the holiday and the reality of it start to diverge,
the inner tension levels can soon start to rise and will leak out in
often change on holiday!
Some people suddenly
become the main song and dance act, trying to impress everyone. Others
may withdraw into a little "leave me alone" shell and only
come out at feeding time. Some may try and "fit in" with the
culture and customs of the new environment without any clue about how
or why and become more of a hindrance than a help.
Some of this can
be laid at the door of insecurity. Dealing with a new environment, having
to relate in new ways with people you may only see occasionally, or
even with total strangers, can bring forth inner demons. Insecurity,
means that there is an inner need to bolster one's self esteem. Children
will be more obvious about their demand for attention in order to "feel
good" using someone else's energy, but adults have learned subtler
ways to do this.
For example, competitiveness
- who can be the most extreme? Who can drink the most, have the biggest
hangover, swim the furthest, "pull the most chicks", wear
the sexiest bikini, etc... Being "the best" or "having
an opinion about everything" puts you at the centre of everyone's
attention and lapping up their energy.
And, for those who
don't join the "competing games", the opposite ploy is often
a total withdrawal, tummy bugs, headaches, illnesses that attract attention
in the form of sympathy and some TLC. These aren't necessarily scheming
strategies and the players are most likely not even aware of their actions,
but they are an inner response at a sub-conscious level to feelings
Another aspect of
personality change on holiday is the release of the controls on "normal
behaviour". The brakes are off, indulgence is the name of the game
and on holiday "I can do what I want, eat/drink what I want, NO
But, just as freewheeling
downhill can be exhilarating and exciting, it can also be dangerous
if you aren't able to steer where you want to go. That's when you might
discover the brick wall of reality and "wham, what hit me, where
did those kilos come from, where did the black eye come from, how did
I end up here!"
Those people who
feel restricted in their normal environment by parents/spouse/responsibilities/etc..
are often the ones who just "let rip" when freed from their
shackles. They are also usually the ones who need another holiday after
their holiday to recover!
a great opportunity for self-awareness.
Returning back home
to our "normal" routines, there is an opportunity to reflect
on our behaviour on holiday, did we "like" ourselves, did
we discover another side to our personality that we weren't aware of,
did we discover hidden talents?
We can reflect on
the difference to our "norm", and consider if there are aspects
of our life that could do with some change? Perhaps we have also become
aware of a bigger picture than our own life. Maybe, understood a different
culture, experienced a different way and can now ask ourselves pertinent
questions about how we might improve our life, our environment, our
Or perhaps we just
returned home with a sense of gratitude for what we do have and for
the people that are part of our lives.
perspective, if you are willing to stand back and look.
They may be an escape
in the short term, but can also be life changing for the longer term.
Hargreaves 11th July 2004)
Holidays - Serenity or Stress? - Hark.net.au