So I re-did my blog this morning. It’s 7.49 Tuesday morning and I didn’t like the blog I was going to post and I’ve been really challenged this week to be a bringer of peace. What do I mean by that? Well, I hear lots of people’s stories all are amazing but some of them are speckled with sadness and disconnected families – don’t get me wrong, mine isn’t perfect and in fact my eldest brother and I have a completely dysfunctional relationship, I’m still trying with that one. We all have that one family member that pushes our buttons and grinds our gears. So what can we do to bring peace and calm to gatherings at this time of year whether they be social, family or work events?

Here’s what I think:

  1. Raise your appreciation. When you interact with anyone, don’t automatically mutter “Happy Holidays.” Say a word of appreciation and offer a smile. Make them feel your positivity. I can’t believe how many people don’t meet my eyes when I introduce myself, be the first one to speak to a stranger, you never know what joy they might bring to your life.
  2. Think less about yourself, more about others. I LOVE THIS!! Inner growth doesn’t happen at the ego level, and it’s the ego that constantly finds fault, with yourself and others. By turning your attention to others, you can give yourself a break from you and from your ego.
  3. Practice empathy. Focus on how others are feeling and extend yourself with sympathy. This can be exhausting so check your energy levels, if you feel completely and utterly knackered – move away from a situation that might require empathy. Empathy establishes an emotional bond and helps counter the isolation and loneliness that people tend to feel during the holidays. But empathy can also extend to noticing how happy someone looks, also. It doesn’t have to be sympathy for negative emotions.
  4. Be easy on yourself. If you aim to make the holidays perfect, failure is around the corner. Read that again. Most people are weighed down by demands they make on themselves, so consciously look for ways to be easy on yourself. Taking time out every day for a few private moments to relax and meditate is a good practical step. Make sure you exercise and eat well.
  5. Keep away from toxicity. When you find yourself in the presence of toxic emotions, tension, stress, and conflict, don’t join in. Do your best to walk away as soon as you can. Toxicity also extends to alcohol. It may be traditional to drink heavily during the holidays, but don’t. In fact, if you can avoid all alcohol, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. Remember I said to pick your party? Drink soda water at all events apart from the one you are really looking forward to.
  6. Set limits, and do it gracefully. When people drink or revive old family issues or find other excuses to drop their inhibitions, things often get said and done that lead to regret. It doesn’t matter if other people stop respecting your boundaries. It is up to you to maintain them, to politely point out when you are uncomfortable. If the other person can’t take a hint, don’t repeat your objection but walk away.  But remember, no one likes a corrector – especially when they’ve been drinking, so as your mum said, if you haven’t got anything nice to say don’t say it at all.
  7. Watch out for reactive responses. A reactive response is a knee-jerk response, and most people indulge in them dozens of times a day. We repeat the same words, feelings, opinions, beliefs, and judgments without pausing to think. If you want to evolve, reactive responses are the enemy. They prevent you from living in the now, renewing yourself, being open to new possibilities, seeing something good in other people, and much more. So, if you notice yourself thinking, feeling, or saying something and you know you’re automatically repeating the past, just stop. I am terrible at this, I used to find as soon as I entered back into my family arena I was a ten year old again- be the grown up, check yourself, limit alcohol and limit time around those people who grind your gears.
  8. Look for new responses. Once you stop reacting, you open up a space for a new response. Where do you find it? Look around. Open your eyes to something or someone in the room that you haven’t noticed before. Or simply check yourself and be quiet inside for a moment. The point is to step outside constricted awareness. Being “tight” in your awareness supports the reactive mind; being “loose” in your awareness brings openness. My dad says ’you can’t argue with a stupid person’.
  9. Focus on the spiritual. Most of you know I’m a Christian but even if you find little to inspire you from other people, from Christianity and other events during the holidays, don’t criticize them, or the world, for that. Inspiration is an inner quality. Turn to the poetry, the bible or other reading material that inspires you, and you will find in them something precious: intimate communication from another person’s heart and soul. Somebody else’s perspective. It doesn’t even matter if you adopt the beliefs or sentiments in the words. The important thing about inspiration is its humanity, the felt presence of someone else’s higher self that sparks and warms your higher self.

This blog isn’t about preaching or telling you what to do, but a helpful guide to navigating this time of year where we can be building bridges rather than walls. Think about a situation where you can help or fix a situation that needs rebuilding. Take time to fix yourself too. x