Holiday Triggers And Minefields

The holidays can be a great source of joy or a great challenge, or both simultaneously! Suffice it to say that human emotions are highly activated this time of year. Keeping your balance can be challenging. Make sure that you are physically, spiritually and emotionally primed. A few conscious decisions can make the difference of whether you feel approaching dread or excited anticipation as you attempt to navigate these tricky currents.

1. Experience the NOW! Many people can fall prey to the mind’s tendency to blast them back to the past. While memories of years past may bring a sweet smile if they are recalled for a momentary enjoyment, don’t get stuck there for too long. Our minds can be tricky and sticky! Lingering too long in the past for any reason separates you from all the joys of the present.

Often, because we are so accustomed to “comparing” in order to gauge our feelings, we leave ourselves open to disappointment, regret and sorrow if our focus is stuck on times past. Perhaps we miss loved ones who have crossed over, children who have grown and flown, huge family gatherings that seemed to be so common yesteryear but less likely now that family members are so geographically separated, or some other aspect of holiday cheer that seems to escape us now.

Do yourself a favor. Try to keep your attention on the now and commit to enjoying it.

2. Don’t overdo it. The holidays can quickly get out of hand! Practice moderation. Whether it is partying, spending or physically exhausting yourself with a frantic schedule, shopping, cooking, cleaning… don’t deplete your energy by overdoing holiday preparations or celebrations. It leaves you in a weakened and more vulnerable state.

3.  Only do what makes you feel good. Pay extra attention to how you feel. Don’t do things just because they may be “expected” of you. By honoring your feelings, you are being authentic and not leaving yourself open to emotional predation from others who may have “traditionally” subjugated your best interests and well being.

4. Know when to pull back. Many comedies have been written about the potential pitfalls of getting the entire family together under one roof. We laugh when we watch them because most of us can relate! But the wounds of dysfunction aren’t funny. If you are attending a big family get together, don’t get sucked in to old dramas or be led into old arguments. When you feel yourself approach the brink of reacting, try to be conscious of your predicament and gently excuse yourself. Do no harm. Get out of the situation. Perhaps you could go outside for a moment and take a few deep breaths. Refocus your attention. To consciously take the charge out of old buttons is really quite an accomplishment. Give yourself a loving hug for your self-compassion and your growth.

Don’t allow yourself to enter the arena in a weakened state!

5. Start new “traditions”. If you are financially unable to “do” the holidays as you have been programmed, don’t let that stop you from experiencing joy with those you love. Scale it way back. Laughter and joy are free. Only advertisers would have you believe that your holiday cheer is directly proportionate to how much you spend!

6.  If you can’t be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with. This is a slight variation of the old song lyric by Stephen Stills, but it holds much potential for allowing joy into what would otherwise be a challenging holiday season. Many people find themselves separated from friends and family for any number of reasons. That doesn’t mean that you should allow yourself to wallow in depression, isolate, or indulge the chattering of the monkey in your brain. Make others happy. I believe that human beings actually thrive by doing for others! Extend your hand, your smile, your time and feel your heart grow.

7. Make time for yourself. No matter how busy you get during the holiday season, honor yourself by continuing to practice your self-nurturing routines. Exercise, yoga, meditation, prayer, walking and other such activities may give you just the balance and focus you need to stay grounded and alert over the holiday season. Perhaps you can even plan extra sessions!

Happy holidays!



© Louise Kearns 2013. All Rights Reserved. Permission is granted to share this article in its entirety on the condition that full credit is given to the author, it is distributed freely and the URL is included.

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