Are you one of those people for whom holidays are more hassle than happiness, and sometimes the spirit of the season seems to have departed in some Christmas past? Would you like to learn some ways to change that — and even make it a gift to carry forward and share with others? Want some tricks for dealing with some of those difficult people you will encounter at holiday time — or anytime?
If you are willing to learn a few simple tricks — and practice them — you can put yourself in charge of your feelings instead of having them jerked around by others. These are skills that have helped me as well as thousands of patients. They are thousands of years old, but still timely and tend to be vastly underused. Gift yourself with them this season.
First, realize that you are totally in charge of how you decide to ‘take’ how someone else acts around you or what they say to you. Most people don’t realize how often they already do this. For example, has anyone ever given you a compliment — perhaps something like ‘You look great today’ and you wonder what they are after, or if that means you usually look bad, or some similar self -put-down? If so, you took an intended positive and turned it into a negative! If you can do that, you can choose to see even a clear-cut insult as a positive. After all, you are important enough they are paying attention to you Even more powerful than that, if someone criticizes you, just hear it, and if it might be accurate, just accept it and own that part of you, knowing it is only a part of you, and not all of you. When a faculty member pointed out to me in residency ‘once you learn to accept yourself, what others think of you won’t matter’ I thought he was crazy ……… until it became quite clear that he was right. That was the beginning of a new kind of emotional freedom!
Second, start a whole new skill of operating from the position that the universe is perfect, but your understanding of it isn’t, and start looking for the perfection and the positive lessons in everything — even the very worst of situations. With some practice you can look at even things like the horrible tragedies that happen — whether natural or man-made — and let them teach you to do some positive things — like make a point of appreciating your loved ones while you have them. Observe all the people who reach out to help others in those times because they can — not because they must. Think about ways to see people who are different from you as just that — only different and a potential learning experience — not someone to be feared or even destroyed just because they are different. If everyone on the planet lived in that ‘destroy everyone different’ mindset we would have been down to 1 human being and then extinct as a race a long time ago! Therefore, be grateful that the vast majority of the population are not horrible and destructive. Consider that if there were only one ‘right’ way to be as a human being our creator wouldn’t have given us all this diversity — there would be 7.5 Billion clones of one of us — and if that one happened to be me, I would be dying of boredom, although some folks might consider it heaven.
Third, minimize the time you spend watching the news, especially before going to bed, because you don’t want your brain playing with all that negative stuff throughout your sleep. The news, by definition, looks for the bad things to report on — because it gets your attention! When you recognize that they have to look all over the world to get that 60 min or less worth of news that gets repeated over and over and over, it should tell you loud and clear that most things are going well despite appearances. Don’t contaminate your holidays with that, much less argue with people about it.
Finally, instead of looking for things to criticize, find fault with or be angry about, start looking for things to be grateful for in your life. I have had people tell me they had nothing to be grateful for, but for starters, your name is not in the obituary column……. Most of us have a place to live other than a cave, have food, clothing, clean water, electricity, vehicles, roads and stores to buy our food (so we don’t have to grow it all ourselves) and our clothes — so we don’t have to make them from scratch. In addition, we have the wonders of nature all around us. What does that mean? Go outside and listen to the birds sing, see the flowers blooming, the clouds and their ever-changing shapes, the sunrise or sunset, the stars and moon. It’s easy to forget those negative things while you focus on nature. Look at a tree and be amazed at how it grew from a small seed, sticking little roots down in soil that doesn’t appear to be nourishing anything or anyone at first glance. Take a deep breath and be grateful for the air we breathe and the plants that give off a waste product called oxygen that enables us to live! I would also suggest you buy a gift for yourself — the book ‘The Magic’ by Rhonda Byrne, which gives you a lot of approaches you won’t have considered for finding ways to be grateful. I have watched developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ turn the lives of even severely mentally ill people around, so it is truly a gift worth giving to yourself, your loved ones and all the rest of the universe, not only during this holiday season, but for all your seasons to come.
Enjoying or hating the holidays — and everything else in life — is a choice, not a mandate, so have a happy, joyous holiday season — if you choose to!!!