I am writing from the heart, today, for a number of reasons.
My own heart is being physically repaired next Wed. (Nov. 28) in San Francisco, because one of its valves is worn out. (Mary and I would appreciate your prayers.)
But more importantly, many of the hearts in Sonoma County, and California, and our precious nation are being worn out; through fires and floods and deaths and the hurricanes which are taking place in our nation’s capital.
So what can we do with these feelings especially as the holidays are approaching? It turns out, dear reader, that our feelings about the holidays do not come from the holidays.
In addition, our feelings do not come from how we were raised, or relationships, or our family.
Do you know where they are coming from?
They are coming from what we are saying to ourselves about the holidays, and what we are saying to ourselves about how we were raised, and what we are saying about relationships and what we are saying about our family.
In other words, our feelings are coming from our beliefs!
So here is this year’s holiday message to you.
AND WE CAN CHANGE OUR BELIEFS!
And this is especially comforting as the holidays approach.
Why; because the holidays are often painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell tinge. We try to look at the holidays as the way they are “supposed to be,” including a lot of warmth, and unconditional love and people who are always there for you.
But that is sometimes simply not true and our memories of the holidays may highlight how untrue it really is.
In fact, relationships can be inherently difficult, especially family relationships, because experiences in the past can create a backlog of feelings; some of them quite hurtful.
And the holiday season, a time of supposed joy and connection, can exacerbate those feelings.
But this year doesn’t have to be that way!
So here are five ways to prepare ourselves for the holidays. And remember this, dear reader; YOU can be in control, rather than the holidays. It is a choice you can make!
Begin with yourself. Yes, that’s right – realize that your brain is believing everything you are telling it about the holidays, or for that matter, anything else! So when you say, the holidays are really hard!” your brain not only believes it, it then looks for ways to actually make them hard.
But when you say, “Wait a minute! The holidays can be a time of renewal. They can contain things to look forward to and (insert your own positive expectations here). When you choose to think this way (and yes, dear reader, it is a choice we can make), our brain immediately agrees and then becomes obsessed with finding ways to make these expectations become true.
Are these expectations realistic? Your brain doesn’t even care! All it cares about is what YOU tell it! YOU ARE THE ONE WHO CHOOSES HOW TO SEE CHRISTMAS, AND HANNAKAH AND NEW YEARS, and everything these include.
Create a different experience. If you hate going to Cousin Myrtle’s house every year because she is an awful cook and her kids are nasty, make new plans this year. That’s right; realize you always have other options. If there are other relatives you want to see, make a separate plan with them. Meet them the day before or after for coffee and catch-up. Make plans now and let Myrtle know you have made other plans. She doesn’t have to know all the details.
Bring a friend. Moral support should never be underestimated! Maybe there is someone you know who doesn’t have a place to go, or would like to avoid their own family. Having someone with you can lessen the difficulties, because the two of you might laugh over some of the craziness.
Be more objective. Be like the detective watching the interactions. Even if the interactions are with you directly, mentally step outside to view what’s really going on. Realize the hurtful comments often have NOTHING to do with you! Instead of “Why does she have to pick on me?” be more objective; “Why does that person get so nasty about so many things? What’s missing in their life?” Don’t own the bad behavior – be aware of your own filters and become more watchful and detached.
Do something fun before or after the time with family. Watch a funny movie. Go for a long walk somewhere nice. Take in a comedy show. Get together with a friend you really enjoy. Do something for you so that your attitude is better going into the situation (if beforehand) or to decompress after your experience.
Will all of this be easy? Not always, for we have had some of our beliefs about the Holidays all our lives, but we can change them, starting today!
And our brains will believe us, and do everything they can to make them true!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent.” His seminar “Taming Your Mind, Unleashing Your Life” is now available on line at stevenrcampbell.teachable.com. For more information, call Steven Campbell at 707-480-5507.