Christmas is not cancelled, it's just been ‘transformed'

Ollie Coach Claire Robertson is looking forwards to her ‘Midwinter retreat’. Instead of feeling that Christmas will be nothing but a disappointment, a pale imitation of all those former happy occasions, it has taken on the allure of something new and exciting.

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Christmas is cancelled, the newspaper headline screeched. My mood plummeted, instantly. "Great!" I thought. "As if this year couldn’t get any more depressing, that one sparkly fairy light at the end of the tunnel has been extinguished too. After months of working, worrying, isolating, now I won’t even get a break. I won’t see my parents, my best friend won’t come to stay, I’ll be alone when the kids are with their Dad, it’ll be cold and grey, nothing but repeats on the telly, and none of our usual, comforting traditions. It’s all so utterly miserable!" And for a good half an hour I felt myself getting more and more fed up until something happened to snap me out of my funk. 

I remembered how liberating it felt when I realised that feelings of anxiety and excitement are very similar - and how, when I have felt really tense I’ve told myself that I’m not anxious, I’m actually really excited - and that just by switching the words I use I could change the way I felt too. Something negative transformed into a positive in my mind, simply through a linguistic trick. Words are powerful - we only have to think about the way assertive women are ‘bossy’ and boys who feel all of their emotions are ‘wet’, but when we switch bossy for ‘confident’ and wet for ‘emotionally intelligent’ the picture changes, and the feelings do too. 

And so I decided that Christmas is not cancelled, it is ‘transformed’. In fact, I’m not even calling it Christmas anymore - I am now looking forward to my ‘Midwinter retreat’ which summons images of lie-ins, cosy slippers, a mug of hot chocolate, favourite films on the box. Or a long walk in the hills on Christmas Day. Steak for lunch because I like it, or a bag of chips on a pier somewhere, because now I’m not calling it Christmas I don’t have to follow convention. I don’t even like turkey that much! Zoom calls with mum and dad and my bestie - it’ll be a hoot. A chance to hibernate for a while, just as this season calls for. And now I’m excited about the break - instead of feeling it will be nothing but a disappointment, a pale imitation of all those former happy occasions, it has taken on the allure of something new and exciting. When we give something a label we attach all sorts of emotions and expectations to it, but we can call it anything we like - even if only in our own heads - and create new feelings about that experience, person or event. And write our own alternative inner newspaper headlines. 

Claire Robertson, Ollie Coach

Claire Robertson is an Ollie Coach and NLP practitioner with a degree in psychology. She runs a private practice in the West Midlands, in the heart of Shropshire, working with children, young people and adults. Claire is also a university lecturer specialising in business, marketing and supporting students, has two children, and enjoys reading, crafts and walking.

To get in contact with Claire, email  

To find out more about Ollie and his Super Powers and how to become an Ollie Coach go to

Caroline Chipper

Director, Subconquest Ltd - Ollie and his Super Powers

Co founder of Subconquest Ltd, that trades as Ollie and his Super Powers. My many years of commercial experience is being put to good use managing the business side of Ollie, including working with our Ollie Coaches, and managing our contracts. In everything we do its about making a difference to those we work with. To find out more go to