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6 Strategies to Put the Function Back in Dysfunction for the Holiday

Right now it is a uniquely emotional time for all of us in some way. The holidays can have their own difficulties attached so when you’re going to your dysfunctional family gathering, seeing those long lost friends, or are maybe spending this year alone. Here are a few little spiritual tidbits to chew on for the season. Now, hold on to your boot straps and go forth!

What You Put In, Is What You Get Out

Remember that the energy and thoughts you put into the season is exactly what you will take away from it. If you’ve decided to host this year and secretly feel like you always give too much; this doesn’t bode well for you. Consider writing down a positive affirmation;

“Giving brings me joy, and I am thankful to be surrounded by people to receive”.

Self Pity-Not Good

If you find yourself alone this year or aren’t interested in any of the invitations you’ve received, DON’T give in to self-pity. Remember, these days are what you make of them. Take this opportunity to reflect on what really brings you joy. Make a list of 10 of them, and then choose one to make happen. One of my favorite things is a sacred ritual. Something that you do to show your commitment and discipline towards what you want. There is an old Guatemalan ritual for traveling more in the New Year. Take a suitcase and walk around your block on the first of January. The size of the suitcase and the length of the walk is said to determine how much you will travel. At the end of the walk I was laughing so hard I didn’t care where I went, and I certainly no longer felt stuck. Incidentally, I did travel more that year.

Rome Wasn’t Built In a Day

Consider that you won’t be able to undo a life time of ancestral conflict over just one turkey, so let yourself off the hook just for this month. Save your deeply honest comments for another time and focus on kindness. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is just say hello.

A Little Honey Goes a Long Way

Sit down 24 hours before your family gathering and write out three nice things about everyone attending. Even if all you can come up with is, “Aunt Agatha’s bellowing voice deserves to be on Broadway.” Now of course if you’ve got 100 people coming, just do this for the people who render the highest irritation quotient for you every year.

Moderation: All it’s Cracked Up To Be

Everything in moderation is the name of the game. Nothing adds insult to emotional injury like over indulging in liquor and food. If you drink too much you’ll say something you mean, and eating too much always precipitates rudeness.

Always Another Day To Talk Politics

Everyone knows it’s best not to discuss politics and religion, while trying to make new friends or keeping the peace, but if you know that Uncle Ben just lost his favorite dog, please don’t bring it up at the dinner table. Take him for a spin around the block after dinner or catch him on his way to the bathroom, and offer him your condolences in a swift and gentle manner. If he decides he is comfortable with a full conversation, he’ll let you know.

Ace in Your Pocket

Now here is the Ace in the hole; this is what you keep in your pocket and refer to when the going at the family gathering gets rough. This is meant to be used in extreme cases only, and is definitely not one size fits all. If you are showing up to the same dinner every year that your father gets drunk and tells you what a disappointment you are, be prepared this year. Bring one item of irreverence. To keep in your pocket, hide in your purse, or even put in your shoe; to remind you that the power a person or situation has over you is the power you give it. In this case I might get a small rock and write a note to wrap around it that says, “Those who live in glass houses should not cast the first stone.”One year I put a slice of bologna in my shoe, to remind me that nothing is really as it seems.

Most of all, take deep breathes, keep your humor, and tell yourself you are loved, peaceful, powerful, and gosh darn it…people like you, because you are and somewhere someone does. Happy Holidays!

I Claim Forgiveness

Today, I claim forgiveness. I claim forgiveness for myself and my heart to all those who could not be who I wanted them to be. To those who have shown me anger and unkindness. To those who could not understand me or extend compassion. To those who have shown me malicious violent intent and action or indifference. To all those who could have no understanding of the impact of their actions. For this, I send them back their spirit with love and gratitude for having had the opportunity to know them in such an intimate way, for to see someone’s deepest vulnerability and fear is the path to their heart. I also claim forgiveness for anyone who may still be holding a piece of bitterness for the same from me. I ask for it to be surrendered immediately and the space in which it lived to be filled with gentleness, as it is our gentleness that transforms all things. In this forgiveness I embrace my own responsibility and empowerment to accept people as they are and to accept those parts of myself that cannot change. I own the power to change anything within me that does not allow for this acceptance. I understand that there can be no blame in forgiveness. I claim forgiveness.

Zechariah 3:9, “I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.”

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Photo by Faith Miller