The holiday season often ushers in a feeling of disappointment and frustration, anxiety and sadness. Why? Because we have these silly visions of a Norman Rockwell setting where everything goes perfect. You know, that image of everyone sitting around the table; everyone is laughing, exuding love and cheer. But in reality, Uncle so-in-so makes his annual off the cuff remark, “this one” picks a battle with “that one” and as it turns out that you come home frazzled and mystified as to “why we can’t have a normal celebration”.
In many families this scenario IS normal. We’re all dysfunctional to some degree. Letting it bother you is your own fault. When we understand those around us, we understand that certain things are going to happen or be said. Prepare mentally, a head of time, for “those gifts you are about to receive”. 🙂 Someone will say something… so what. Are you willing to let a remark affect your entire life? Spoil your holiday? Is it really that important? Their words do not define who you are. Of course if it’s harmful in some way, a calm statement of disapproval is warranted. But if it’s just one of those stupid things that is said that gets under your skin… why bother with it? Do not let what others say or think define you.
Our memories hold things forever. That snide remark from someone is tucked away and every time it is recalled, the day that it happened is relived again and again. All the pain or hostility that is attached to it is also recalled. You find yourself dreading anything that comes out of that persons mouth and picturing scenarios of finally telling them off and letting them have it with a big ol’ slice of grandma’s apple pie. But you don’t. Instead you file away more pain and make yourself miserable over and over. What happens here is the person says one little thing and when we hear it, it triggers all those other little things said in the past… and it makes the little thing get bigger and bigger when we harp on it.
First of all, keep yourself in the present moment. Look around you! What is happening right now? Find something peaceful, joyous. A photo, a child laughing, a sunset, an inspirational video – focus on something that brings you joy. Remove yourself from the conversation physically by leaving the room; or mentally by turning your complete attention to something positive happening elsewhere. Focus on your breathing. Deep breath in, loooong exhale out. Peace coming in; negative going out.
You cannot control what others say and do, but you can control your reaction to it and your thoughts of it. Your mind is very powerful! Forgiveness and compassion for the person will release that negative attachment you have with them. This is not to imply that you agree with that person or are willing to let them walk all over you. But in order to release yourself from these feelings, you must release them. “He has his views, I have mine. He is entitled to his thoughts like I am to mine, etc. When it comes down to it, I love him because he is my brother, not for his thoughts, actions and views. He is on a journey unique to him, as I am on mine.”
When we recall memories that make us mad, we are allowing that person to continue to walk all over us, to hurt us again and again… without them even saying anything in the present moment! We allow ourselves to get stressed and wallow in pity just by reliving a memory. Banish those memories from your mind. They are only harming you. Understand that everyone has their own issues and their own way of dealing with them. Picture your Happy Place, smile, and move on. Replace negative memories with happy ones. Why fill up space in your mind with unpleasant memories? Stuff that space with love, laughter and good memories. Then draw on those memories throughout the year.
Acknowledge the thought, figure out what it makes you feel and why, and push it out of your mind (I am not going to let this memory hurt me any longer. It is in the past.), replace it with a positive memory. Remember, the only person that can allow you to be stressed is YOU.