We are in the middle of the holiday season where families come together for various celebrations. These are moments that we look forward to and are often filled with holiday traditions, childhood nostalgia, and family members that we have not seen in some time. But, what do you when you sit down for dinner and a family member brings up a loaded topic? And, how do you respond when someone asks that awkward question: Are you still out of work? How are the grades this term? When will you set the wedding date?
Do you shrink in your chair, become defensive, or plan your escape route?
While the holiday season may bring abundance and joy, few families are exempt from difficult conversations and intense emotions. If you find yourself in a situation that feels particularly challenging or emotional, remember to step back, breathe and give yourself a break before you take action.
A few tips to remember include: (1) accept family members as they are. When you accept them exactly as they are, your resistance and inner battle dies down. Acceptance doesn’t mean approving of, or condoning their actions. It simply means you stop expecting them to be different than they are. (2) Don't take disapproval personally. If someone disapproves or critiques your job, your partner, your lifestyle, try to keep in mind the comments reflect their worldview. They get to choose their behaviors, and what they choose is always more a function of their experiences and their worldview than it is about you. (3) Finally, when tension is high, don’t let your emotions be overtaken by anyone else in the room. Decide how you want to feel and consciously decide to feel that way. Being calm and peaceful and having gratitude for what is working well in your life is your best asset in any stressful situation.
Imagine it’s 8:15 a.m. You overslept and have a 9:00 a.m. meeting. But, first you must drop your third grader off at school by 8:30 a.m. You have several notes to review before your meeting and a twenty minute commute that can take twice as long in rush hour traffic.
What do you do? Skip breakfast and grab a coffee? Smoke a cigarette? Eat a leftover New Years eve Brownie? Text your boss that you will be late to the meeting and didn’t have time to prepare? Your anxiety level skyrockets as you and your child head out the door, hop in the car, and put on your seat belts. During your drive you lament to yourself that there aren’t enough hours in a day.
This scenario, or your version of it, may be typical most days of the year. But, on January 1st, many Americans will make a promise to themselves that “starting today” they will behave different. In 2014 they promise to finish their work before going to bed, wake up on time, exercise before work, and eat a healthy breakfast.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, December 2013, the top 10 New Years resolutions for 2014 are to (1) Lose Weight (2) Get Organized (3) Spend less, Save More (4) Enjoy Life to the Fullest (5) Stay Fit and Healthy (6) Learn Something Exciting (7) Quit Smoking (8) Help Others in Their Dreams (9) Fall in Love, and (10) Spend More Time With Family.
Yet, when we make a resolution to change or create new habits in a short amount of time, many of us will regrettably slip back into habitual patterns. Despite our best intentions. So, how can you take advantage of your good intentions on Jan. 1 and make a resolution that will last throughout the year?
1) DON'T suppress cravings.
2) DON'T rely on will power.
3) DON'T make promises you can’t keep (i.e. I will fall in love this year).
4) DON'T attempt too many changes at one time.
5) DO choose one attainable, long-term goal.
6) DO reward yourself for making progress.
7) DO share your goals with people who believe in you, and support you.
8) DO make a plan.
9) DO remember that three steps forward, and two steps backward is progress!
10) And, finally, DO remember that when you create a New Years Resolution, you are attempting to make a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes are a process that require time, commitment and support. So just remember to keep at it, one step at a time, and allow for minor missteps on your road to success.