Christmas can be one of the most magical, connected times of the year as you celebrate with the people you love.
However, the lead-up to Christmas can be fraught with added pressures and stress. Last-minute shopping, parties, school concerts, work projects, the extra expense, and the preparation of a feast, can leave you feeling burnt out, overwhelmed and stretched in all directions!
To top it off, when you finally sit around the table on the big day, exhaustion, conflicting ideas and underlying family tensions, can create a perfect environment for tempers to flare. Drama and regret sometimes replace peace, joy, and goodwill for all men.
The good news is that any challenging situation that may lead to conflict and drama, can actually be turned around to instead foster greater connections between yourself and your loved ones. Tension-infused times around the Christmas table can be excellent opportunities for alchemy—it’s your chance to turn times of tension and discord into ones of peace, love and connection.
Get along at family events by:
1. Live and let live: it can be instinctual to let everyone at the table know that you don’t agree with their views. However, to get along with family the golden rule is to pick your battles, don’t sweat the small stuff and live and let live. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, it’s okay to agree to disagree and this can be done in your head. There is a Buddhist saying seeing and understanding are the way to love and compassion.
It can be almost guaranteed that if you could sit down with another and hear the full story of their life’s experiences, also known as their conditioning, you may see the world the same way they do. There is a common expression in counselling, to never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins.
Being empathetic towards the people you love the most can be the hardest. Your family and loved ones can be the easiest for you to judge because you know them so well. However, this Christmas practice holding a loving empathetic space towards them and feel how you connect and bond at a deeper level.
2. Being kind rather than right: Everyone wants to be right, we have been conditioned to be this way. Our education system can train us to be competitive, and that when you win you are successful. However, sometimes it is just not necessary to win the argument at the Christmas table. You may win the battle but lose the war, at the expense of your relationship with the people you love the most.
Is it really more important to be right at the expense of your relationship? The art of successful conflict resolution involves finding a win/win scenario in every conflict and this includes at the family Christmas table too. If you look to make everyone a winner, the solutions are always there. There is enough room in this world for everyone to be right. This is true unconditional love, true respect.
3. Remaining calm and centred: even when others are not. Generally remaining connected to your inner sense of peace even when those around you are reactive and unsettled. If you become reactive too it is likely to escalate any existing tension and cause conflict. When you are calm you are better able to tune into the intuition that will guide you to do and say the things that will restore peace and harmony to the Christmas table.
If you feel yourself beginning to lose your inner calm:
• Tune into your body and focus on calming your mind with your breath. Most of your energy is bottled up in the head as your mind is consumed or overwhelmed by negative thoughts.
• Observe your thoughts and emotions with awareness as unobserved thoughts and emotions can create unconscious behavioural patterns and create situations you don’t want such as snapping at someone or storming out in a rage. So rather than allowing your thoughts and emotions to control you, you can control them by choosing your own behaviours. You might initially feel like snapping at your uncle when he says something rude to you at the table, but after a few deep breaths, you choose to think “that is just his opinion” and smile at him instead.
You cannot lose a tug-o-war if you refuse to pick up the rope in the first place. You can also choose to drop your end of the rope at any point, instantly relieving the tension.
4. Recognising worrying about someone: is not a measure of how much you love them. This is a common misperception that people can associate with being loving. Yet when we truly unconditionally love someone we would never direct a negative thought their way including worrying about them.
Sometimes we can even worry about our children, thinking that we are helping them by worrying that they are “not good enough” in certain areas and they need to be better. Nobody benefits from worrying vibes, however, they will benefit by being bathed in unconditional love. So throughout the Christmas period, project loving vibes towards everyone you meet and feel the connection and harmony it creates between you.
5. Detaching rather than attaching: this may mean also further redefining the true definition of love. It is common to feel that when you really love someone you are attached to them. Yet true unconditional love is detached rather than attached. This is because in a detached more objective state you can really be there for the people you care for. In an attached state if your partner is reactive and angry you become reactive and angry too. When your child is upset and overwhelmed you get upset and overwhelmed too.
In a detached state when your partner is angry or if your child is sad. You hold a loving, wise, empathetic and supportive space for them allowing them to work through their feelings and return to their natural, loving state.
This Christmas, if someone is being reactive and emotional it is a wonderful opportunity to exercise detachment. Hold a non-judgemental, accepting space for them. Allow them to have and express their feelings exactly as they are. You may not feel like that in a similar situation, or even agree with what they are saying. Just let them be in a space of unconditional love. This facilitates true loving connections.
The challenges of family events can provide wonderful opportunities for growth and transformation. Those situations that have created the greatest stress in the past are opportunities to create the greatest joy ultimately, as you reconnect in loving ways with your family and friends.
Set the intention for your next family gathering to be the best one yet!
Like many, you may be experiencing a few anxieties around the thought of getting together at Christmas with your extended family. However, despite the stresses, there’s often a moment that makes us feel magical and sentimental, no matter how young or old we are. Let us know in the comments below, a magic moment that touched your heart at Christmas.
To discover more about connecting with the people you love, see: Love Now Podcast