It’s hard to keep the peace but especially during the holiday season. I happen to be one who loves the holiday season for the beauty and wonder it brings. I love the simplicity of the Flagstaff Star every year on Veteran’s Day here in Boulder. The lights and color, the evergreen fragrance, the tree, music, community sharing and meaningful time with family and friends bring joy to me. Any reason to bring love, joy, peace, generosity, goodwill, and connection to others is great.
The image of the “ideal” holiday- whatever that means in décor, tradition, and festivity can dominate and increase anxiety.
This causes even the most loving of relationships to need “do-over” moments. Regrettable things, though unintended can be hurtful.
Somehow, rather than savoring the goodness of the season, it is easy to get overwhelmed. This can turn into a burden rather than a joy.
For those who are enduring death, divorce, health or increased stressors and challenges, this time of year can magnify the sadness and loss. Because it can be so challenging to cope, you may feel you need simply to “cocoon”. Bring on the warm soup, tea, and blankets. (It’s no surprise that weighted blankets have become quite a “thing”) Give permission to do exactly what you need. Reach out for support to avoid isolation.
“Tis the Season” There may be many additional invitations and events to choose between and support.
Where there is “lack” there is a shame trigger. Orphaned parts of ourselves can truly raise their sad, angry or needy head. These parts are beckoning to be loved, especially during this time. Comfort and joy can heal from our increased kindness to self with hands over heart.
The holiday season can put undue financial pressure on families. We clearly need a redefined and designed vision that focuses more on worthiness, simplicity, homemade, natural abundance and generosity. Don’t compare. Stay in your lane.
I believe this is a season that ultimately celebrates light, love, and birth.
The light within illuminates through prayer and meditation, stillness, peace, and reflection. The light within can provide leadership, clarity, compassion, and calm. It can help us discern and make choices that align with our needs and values.
I have gathered thoughts and suggestions from clients, family, and of course my own experience, humbling as it may be. Thank you to all contributors.
Here they are:
First of all, how do you want to feel at the end of the season and as you go through it? Would you like to feel calm, connected as a team with your partner? Likewise, would you love more time cuddling on the couch?
Complete the sentence…what I would love would be…..or wouldn’t be nice if……..
Self-care is of paramount importance. In busy times, it is the thing most likely to be sacrificed. Maintaining healthy nutrition, exercise, mindful practice, social support is so important. Because of this, prioritize your most important relationships. Turn toward and stay connected.
What is important to you? No one can read your mind. Share how you would love for things to look and be.
Let go of the stress and bring laughter, joy, and playfulness. Dancing around to your favorite tunes, or flirting with one another through any task can ease tension and increase connection.
There is so much offered for a low-cost budget to enjoy. Concerts, outdoor events, game night, cookie decorating, or peaceful evenings at home are all accessible.
Not everything needs to be celebrated in a three-week window. Planning something in January or later for friends or gatherings could be a great way to have something to look forward to.
There are bound to be plenty. What we focus on expands, so focus on the positive experiences, rather than disappoints. If there is a SNAFU or rupture between people- do this:
The next best response and reparative gesture or comment is a choice from a place of calm, kindness and clarity. For this challenge, regulate your EQ and nervous system. Stopping and take 3 deep breaths can help us during times like this, rather than “flipping our lid”. Take a time out with the reassurance of coming back.
Furthermore, harmony, disharmony, and repair are processes important in daily life for the myriad of small conflicts we run into. Let’s be masters navigating these imperfect moments.
“Harmony. Disharmony. Repair”. Terry Real
If stress or personalities get entangled, words cross or regret sets in, apologize and reset. Consequently, we need to let go of grudges, resentments or comparisons. Let in love, empathy, respect, difference, and understanding.
“Imperfections are not inadequacies. They are reminders that we are all in this together.” Brene’ Brown
I love Brene’ Brown’s book. The Gift of Imperfection. Imperfection is actually what bonds us together. Let’s handle it gracefully and with ease and reassurance rather than rupture and disrepair, gossip, division, and separation.
I wish all a Peaceful, Joy and Love- Filled Holiday!
Brene’ Brown, PhD. brenebrown.com
Terry Real, Relationship Therapist, terryreal.com
We have so many opportunities to choose appreciation and express gratitude. It is a value in action, and a practice. Sharing gratitude has so many benefits for the giver, not to mention the receiver.
The emphasis is on the importance of making gratitude seeking, a choice.
Imagine that a woman comes in at the end of an exhausting day. Her partner greets her with “Hi love! I am so happy you are home. You look wiped out. I bet you would love to have me take on dinner tonight. You are incredible and give so much to those around you. You deserve a break.”
Compare that to: “Well, look who just walked in. Finally, you’re home. Where have you been? I am starving!” they said indignantly.
Imagine a beautiful snow-filled scene. One person might feel that it is annoyingly cold, hard to bear. To another, it represents stillness, and the opportunity to slow and savor. For the active type, having the opportunity to enjoy walking, biking or cross-country skiing to work is an unexpected pleasure. Generosity and community can be increased by shoveling for others who are not able to do so themselves. All these choices will generate health and well-being, connection or isolation.
It is a choice. Every. Single. Day. You can choose to express appreciation and gratitude, or displeasure and contempt. It’s all in the perspective and the ability to focus on the good. Why is that so important?
Gratitude is the beacon of light through the darkest times. In grief, though our hearts are broken, it can give solace and comfort through reflecting on treasured memories and the things we loved most about the person.
John and Beth are going through a divorce where there are so much pain and remorse, sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. Gratitude for their time together, their children along with faith and hope can ease the pain and guide them with the wisdom needed rather than bitterness and closed hearts.
There is a great amount of research generously shared about the qualitative difference.
Gratitude is a way for people to appreciate what they have instead of always reaching for something new in the hopes it will make them happier, or thinking they can’t feel satisfied until every physical and material need is met. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack. And, although it may feel contrived at first, this mental state grows stronger with use and practice.” Harvard Health Publishing
We know, that in order to focus on the positive and what we appreciate, we have to set the intention. We are, as research shows, hardwired with a negativity bias. This bias has done wondrous things for humankind’s survival through existence. It, however, has not been great at helping us build health, positivity or connection with others. We also know that we are hardwired for connection.
To do that, we need a 5:1 ration of sharing appreciation vs complaints or problems.
When we “take in the good” and enjoy positive moments, it grows greater health and engagement.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.
One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative).
After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
Words of Appreciation- Through letters, daily sprinkling in of kind words at home or at work, to others, gratitude is shared and increases connection.
Create a gratitude journal to write in the morning or the end of day to build focus on the positive things that happened. This increases a sense of well-being, even in the midst of difficult times.
Share gratitude as a ritual. Whether it is at home or in the workplace, having time to express positive feedback, appreciation for the moments and contributions creates a bond.
Life is a quest for meaning and joy, love and connection. A quest for couples is a process to increase the connection, emotional engagement, communication and intimacy over time.
It occurred to me that offering session by session often lacks the commitment to achieve what couples really want. A Quest for Couples increases resource and then practice, practice, practice. Learning new skills, habits, and ways of being with one another takes time. (more…)
FYI, engaged couples!
You are in the wedding planning stages — planning the location, the venue, the vibe, the dress, the photographer, the honeymoon, everything — to make the day you’ve both dreamed of come true. And you have such love and excitement planning your lives together.
Getting married is exciting! Creating a love that lasts requires wisdom, skill, planning, and conscious ways to build trust and commitment.