It’s Christmas morning – you’ve got 17 people coming for dinner, including your elderly uncle who always turns up late; the electricity has been cut off due to the storms; your carefully stocked freezer is about to go into meltdown, and so are you! How can you maintain your sanity amidst this madness? Yes, military style planning & list making, massages, lots of white wine sometimes help, but here are a few suggestions that might help you find a different approach…
- Notice your reactions – when something happens, it is our own thoughts and response to what has happened before that triggers our reaction… we respond automatically because our brains learn by patterns. If you can change your thoughts, this will change your response and you will get a different result. When you find yourself getting annoyed again at Uncle Joe because he’s late again, ask yourself, what am I thinking here? Are you reacting to what’s happened before or what’s happening now? Are you trying to aim for the perfect day? Is this realistic or are you comparing yourself to the romanticised notion of peace and harmony that you might see in tv & movies? What’s really going on in you? What’s going on for the other people around you? We all have different value systems and priorities, so not everyone has the same viewpoint of what’s important. If you can identify what you are thinking and why, you can then make a choice not to be responsible for how other people are or what they do, and let it go.
- Be thankful – speaking personally and based on what my clients find, we all focus a lot on what we don’t have, what we lack, what we used to have, ” things are ok but…” If, however, just for one day we can look at things we are grateful for, this gives us perspective; some will find more to be grateful for than others, but even people in their darkest days can find some silver linings in the cloud. Even when your freezer is on the blink, so you won’t have the full turkey with all the trimmings when you expected to – does it really matter? Could you live with having beans on toast – what’s most important to you and to those you care about? One of my fondest memories of Christmas is from the time my mother got a new oven and put the turkey in on Christmas Eve, and we all went to bed after a few drinks and forgot to turn it off – next day we managed to find an alternative to the “burnt offering”, and had a laugh about it then and ever since!
- Be present this Christmas – just like the ghosts in “A Christmas Carol”, the Christmas Past and Future are not “real”, only being present right now will allow you to make a difference. If you can spend time listening, talking, laughing and really focusing on the people you are with, rather than wishing it was different or spending the whole day slaving over dinner only to have to wash up too, then maybe you could choose a different approach, ask people beforehand or early on to help with specific jobs – it will all work out ok in the end, even if it’s not the way you would have done it.
Noticing your reactions, and being thankful happen easily when you are being present – so being present is the best gift you can give to yourself and others this Christmas – and it’s free!
Have a happy Christmas, no matter what happens! … Liz
Check out our upcoming course in the New Year and learn how to “Reach your Personal Best in 2012”