Welcome to another round of the holidays, folks! I recently had a client come for a pre-Thanksgiving tune up, and I have more who will be coming in for the post-Thanksgiving decompression. And Christmas will be the same. One client was scheduling her next appointment for the week after Thanksgiving, and I asked her if she was sure she wanted to come back so soon (I try to work myself out of a job). She said something like, “Hell no – I definitely have to come back after being with my family!” I laughed.
So what is it about the holidays that’s so stressful? Aren’t they supposed to be fun? Of course they are plenty fun, but there’s some normal, built-in stress as well. This is because there’s travel, crowds, lines, traffic, extra expenses, busy schedules, and… family! Since readers of A Clean Mind are EXPERTS on stress, though, we should be perfectly fine – as long we stay on it, of course. Nip it in the bud the second you notice it and then go on about your day. Repeat as needed. When you feel like you really are learning how to let stress flow through you and not build up so much (it’s really not that hard when you practice), then the holidays become an excellent annual measuring stick for how you’re doing. I think that way of looking at it, and the rest of life for that matter, puts a nice spin on things so that we’re not resisting. Good stuff.
Finally, let’s talk about family for a second. This is mostly for people who dread hanging out with their families during the holidays. If this is you, then first know that there’s nothing wrong with that – it’s just how it is now. So let’s totally accept it without judging it as being good or bad. Again, it’s just how it is now. If you dread hanging out with your family during the holidays, then let’s clear some of that out. Close your eyes for a moment and go there. Think about your family for just for a second and then feel that dread or stress that arises in your body. And let it be there. And let it go. And breathe. Good work. Back to family…
Some people tend try to sway or change some members of their family and they end up in the same bad conversations over and over. And nobody changes. And they’ve been doing this for years. I’d consider just letting it go this year and seeing how that works for you. Be on the lookout for political rants and arguments, too – just a heads up.
On the flip side, some people tend to not let their family members change, holding them to some outdated past version of themselves. And some people use the whole “unconditional love” thing to justify their own patterns and habits that aren’t so great. Some feel like they can act like a total ass… because it’s my family! They have to love me! Most people don’t act like a total ass, but it might be more subtle. If you take a look at yourself to see if this rings true at all, then that’s great. Just do it totally non-judgmentally. Very relaxed. It’s just a pattern, so laugh at it. No big deal. This weakens it so you can actually do something about it.
Family is one of the best measuring sticks out there for your growth. So if it might help, then make a plan before you hang out with them. Something like “no political conversations with Uncle Ralph” or something more serious – it works the same. Then do your best to implement the plan. When all is said and done, compare your experience to years past and ask yourself if you had more peace this year. What worked and what didn’t? It’s pretty cool when you look at it in this way, and you might even end up being pretty pleased with your progress over time. This allows you to be in charge of your happiness rather than being a helpless victim who has to hang out with these crazy people. That’s not a fun place to be. Having said that, I realize there’s some truth in those words for many people, so definitely remember what you can control and what you can’t and go from there. Happy Holidays!