The Holiday Season is upon us. How are you doing? Are you struggling? Stressed? Overwhelmed? Relationships strained? Need some help turning that holiday frown upside down?
Happy Holiday Toolkit:
Tools You Can Use to Survive, Thrive and Enjoy the Holidays by Jeff Wright, MFT
Honor the Darkness to Move Into the Light.
- The dark time of year can be H-E-A-V-Y. As we anticipate and welcome the return of the light, it’s important to honor the dark by respecting its way. Slow down. Take it easy. Be gentle with yourself. Remember to take a breath. Shift your gaze inward.
- Pause to take stock of your life. What do you want to put behind you and what will you carry forward as you greet the return of the light? What’s on deck for you in ’23?
Stay in Your Lane.
- Holiday times can be stressful times for family relations. It is not necessary to rehearse tired old, unsatisfying codependent, avoidant or (passive) aggressive patterns of relating with family members. Things can be different between you and your relatives only if you behave differently toward them.
- Set good clear simple boundaries within yourself: “What do I want to do with these people? What am I no longer willing to do with them?”
- Know what is your business, mind it very well and stay out of theirs.
- Don’t do much of what you don’t want to do or cannot do in a good way. Doing a bunch of stuff you don’t want to do causes resentment. Joy cannot emanate from a resentful heart.
- Let go of expectation-making. There is no love in this practice. Expectation-making is a fear-based activity that puts shackles on the love. Remember, not having expectations is not the same as lowering them.
- It is not necessary to respond to anything you don’t want to respond to. If you cannot say what is true or agree with someone in a good way, then say nothing until you can do so.
- Be present, kind, generous and engaged. Love your relatives and leave them alone!
Always be kind. Never be “nice.”
- The teaching is that “the Truth shall make you free.” It is NOT “Being a nice person shall make you free.” In your relationships make yourself vulnerable by telling the truth, especially the hard truth, in a loving, respectful and kind way.
- Remember, the truth is only the truth so long as it serves and it is kind.
- Your complaints, judgments and harsh opinions about others are not the truth. They are your private business.
- Being “nice” is a lie. It’s a pig dressed in a tuxedo. Saying (or implying) that something is ok when it is not with a smile on your face is not a good way. There is no joy or love in this practice of being “nice.” It can only make you resentful and unsafe to others.
- Practice spiritual fortitude and discernment. Always be kind … AND take sh** from no one! Be a big person. Do not participate in bad behavior. Do not oppose it, seek to convert it or indulge it in any way. If there is no love in it, leave it alone. it is not for you.
- There is no kindness or love in supporting the bad behavior of others with your attention or participation.
Return to the Love asap.
- Interacting with humans, especially family members and most especially during this stressful time of year, can be VERY upsetting. It’s ok. The upset is honest. It’s a sign that love and vulnerability are present.
- Being upset with loved ones is NOT a problem, a puzzle, a crisis or an emergency. It is an inevitability and an inextricable aspect of the human condition.
- Just soften. Breathe. Make the effort to step off of whatever position you have taken that is not helpful, Soften your gaze, quiet your mind, open your heart and allow for a return to the love ASAP.
- You don’t have to sort out or “resolve” the upset to soften into the love.
- Remember, returning to the love does not entail putting up with someone’s bad behavior. Sometimes the most loving thing to do is to leave someone alone and soften to yourself about that. Never explain yourself or argue with anyone about anything. Just love them.
- Old family relationship patterns can be FUNKY! Don’t take that old familiar bait. Learn to respond in a good way rather than react in the well-rehearsed familiar way that has never felt good to you or gotten you anywhere good with those exasperating relations.
- Remember, having a “good reason” to behave badly is NOT the same thing as behaving well. Don’t look to justify or rationalize your bad behavior. It’s an exhausting and pointless vanity exercise. Just do your best to behave well.
- When you inevitably fail at behaving well, own it, make any necessary amends and move forward without regret or recrimination. Feeling bad about yourself serves no one.
- Remember, we learn to behave better by responding well to the bad behavior of others. Learn from these teachers, the “haters,” and honor the gift of their instruction with your good, loving, well-boundaried and helpful behavior.
Live in the Love.
- Our lives feel how they feel and we think about them whatever way we think about them. In the end, none of the thoughts and feelings matter all that much. The love is what matters. Return always to the love.
- Thoughts and feeling states are not a good basis for determining how to behave. The feelings are always changing and most of the thoughts are inaccurate or driven by the narrow interests of our ego, fears or the desires of the moment.
- Love, as an organizing principle for behavior, can ONLY clarify, liberate, heal, conjoin and create. It heals all. Learn how to love well and then do THAT better and better all the time. This is the ultimate path of mastery for the human beings. In the end, it is exactly what will save you, all your relations and the world. Nothing else can do the trick.
- Offer your relatives a generous assumption about their motivations with a clear and discerning eye toward their behaviors. If there is love in their behaviors, accept it. If not, leave it alone, it’s not for you.
Move Forward Toward the Light.
- “What do You Want?” This is the question at the heart of the forward-moving direction. Don’t concern yourself with your opinions of how things are or were or how they should or should not have been. Focus forward. Life’s light rides in on your desire, not on your complaints, nostalgias or regrets.
- In ALL your relations and endeavors focus on what you want. Feel your life’s desire rise in your body, fill your heart and excite your mind.
- Move forward into the light of that desire in a good way. Good way feels like good way – It is inspired. The other thing does not feel like that.
- Honor the darkness. Acknowledge the fear, the loss, the grief, the struggle and the pain. Feel it deeply and thoroughly, then take a breath and turn toward the emerging and abiding light of your life’s true desire. Ask yourself “What do I want?” The love, the light and YOUR life live in the answer to that simple question.