Home for the Holidays: Setting your Intention
"T'is the season to be jolly!" Holidays are traditionally the time to spend time with friends, family and loved ones and something to look forward to, but for most of us it is more of a mixed ball of wax.
From my years of experience with clients, the holidays bring up a litany of emotions from feelings of excitement to anxiety or both due to:
- Wanting to please others
- Unfulfilled expectations
- A conditioned response to a family member or a family dynamic based on past history.
What if this holiday season can really be what it was meant to be, which is a time of joy, love and connection?
Here are some suggestions you may want to implement that can positively impact your family gatherings and relationships.
1. Focus on the love and affection for those that you truly care about and why you are attending the event to begin with. If there are people who will be attending that are quite reactivating for you, ask yourself the question: "Why am I so reactive to them?" Chances are one or more of these things are present.
- You have a triggered response to them based on past interactions.
- You have an expectation of them to be different than they are (meaning they didn't do, say or react to something they way you would have).
- They are mirroring some aspect of yourself that you do not recognize or accept.
- You have a negative emotional account with them that you never communicated or completed.
2. Bring the gifts of good will and compassion. If the list above describes the dynamic that you have with someone, the holiday gathering may not be the ideal time and place to try to clear up the old emotional account.
Try to remember when people are under stress; feel embarrassed or hurt they act out in less than optimal ways. Self reflect on the times when you acted less than optimally. Practice forgiveness for their humanity and your own.
3. When clearing up an upset with someone remember not to blame them for your experience. Take ownership of your own reactivity.
An example of this would be, "When you said I was ridiculous I felt embarrassed" as opposed to "you made me feel stupid, when you said I was ridiculous." In the first example you are accepting responsibility for your reaction and the second example you are blaming them for your reaction. These are subtleties that make the world of difference.
I wish you a Holiday season filled with love, joy and gratitude!
Iris First, M.S. Relations Coach