Festive Survival Guide
Updated: Nov 18, 2022
Well, its that time of year. Fun times but also stressful. Many don’t like Christmas or festivities at all. Understandable when you hear the stories. The toxic behavior of family members. The toxic behavior of a “friend” or worse, a friend of a friend. Im sure you can add your own points too. This is something I put together to help you get through situations over the holiday period.
With that said lets get started!
Be the observer not the participator.
This one is a good one to practice. If you are in a situation where you are in a family situation going on in front of you. Everybody is talking over one another. One is moaning another is shouting. One is waving arms around, all at the same time. If you step out of labeling the situation as family and just observe like a person behind a movie camera, it puts a whole new look on things. You are no longer wrapping yourself into the emotion of what is happening in front of you. It can be funny to. Its comical what you are watching. When you observe you are not attached. You just became aware and conscious and they are not.
Leave An Ego At The Door
OK, just because there are people at this gathering with Egos, don’t mean you have to walk in with one. “My car is bigger than yours”. “Oh yeah well, my house is bigger”. “I make this amount well I make this”. Ask, who is happy? When we look at others as having what we want with a judgment of jealousy or envy we have a problem. How about putting yourself in the poor house buying a piece of clothing because Ego tells you that you have to be a certain way to fit in. Buddhism says Leave the Ego at the Door. So do so. Let people think or believe what they want. Don’t mean its real. Don’t mean happiness.
Watch Ya Words
I wrote a blog just on Words. So please, go check my blogs section on my site.
Watch what you say. You may have in mind how you want it to sound but it may not come off that way. Think, "how do I want this person to receive this". Especially with those you do not know. Remember also, some words in one country may mean something totally different in another. Words can have a huge impact and CAN NOT be taken back once the other has heard it or read it. Or worse still, heard from somebody else. Even change the tone a word is spoken and it can change the meaning of the word. Also, everybody is stressing. So, Watch your words.
Listen More Speak Less
This is a hard one, believe it or not. Listening is a skill in its own right that takes practice. We don’t fully listen. Why? Well, our mind is already lining up what we are going to say before the person in front of us has even finished the sentence. Its like we are saying….”Yeah, I know what ya going to say but this is real important and I got to say it”. Well, hang on, slow down! Ya missing everything. The tone, pitch, impotence, body language, etc. Then ya start missing words. You are not present with them. You are present with yourself. Good convos are when you ask about the other person wit intent on really wanting to know about this person. Why would you want to miss the beauty of that connect and energy. So, ask the questions and then listen. Open the mind. Don’t miss out on learning about another.
People You Don’t Know Can be Somebody You Wish You Spoke To
OK, I understand the not knowing anybody at a gathering. The anxieties that come with that. Maybe it’s a family gathering or a party of some kind. I may be feeling the anxiety a little but being silent gets me meeting nobody. How many opportunities have I missed out on because of fear of speaking to a stranger? How many great friendships have I missed? How many great energies and like-minded people have I missed? How many great conversations have I missed out on? Times to learn about another culture, what makes them tick. How they deal with situations. What skills do they have? I can go on and on. You can CHOOSE to be silent. Or CHOOSE to get to know another.
Stick to Boundaries
Real important one this one. Comes in all shapes and forms too. One thing to remember. Boundaries are there for you. Nobody else. If you are laying a boundary then it is there to protect you. It also allows you to stay in control of self with power. If you have not had a childhood upbringing of knowing what healthy boundaries are then how would you know what to do? A great time to start laying some down, and practice. They are to protect you and allows you to stay in control of you. No! is the biggest one. Small two letter word that is really hard to say. But once you do, see how it transforms you. Its better to say no and live with a little bit of guilt then say yes and have a lot of resentment. How about food. Is there certain things culturally you do not eat? What if, like myself you are full plant base in your diet. I say Plant base because I do eat honey and Vegan to me is a label. But, establish that boundary up front if dinner is involved. People may not understand how you are. Why you do what you do but its who you are. Don’t give up to people. Be you, You don’t eat certain things then say so up front. How about alcohol. When I gave up alcohol finally, it was hard going back to London for a visit and hearing all the comments. “Come on have a beer” “What’s up with you” ya get the idea. But let Ego and people pleasing go. Stick to you…Boundaries.
Stick To A Time?
This really also comes under boundaries. But there is a little more to add to this. By sticking to a time, you are establishing your time is also important. There are things you would like to do elsewhere too. Maybe go to a friend. Or go to one of ya kid’s partners house cause ya got invited. You are not saying you are not going to the family’s house. If your choice is to stay where you are and enjoy where you are at, then so be it. You are happy and doing your choice. But if you are wanting to do something else after a period of time, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either. Establish a time that you will be leaving. Even if that means you just want to go home and veg out with a film. Also, on a note about Time. If there has been conflict before or toxic behavior that you don’t care for from one of the family members or friends, establish with whoever you are going with or with yourself that if it happens you are going to leave. No question. You get up and politely leave. Even tell whomever may be hosting that it will happen. No scene need be made by you at all. Thank you very much and leave. Why stay in a toxic environment. Why be spoken to in a way you do not wish to be spoken to. It avoids argument. Put space between you and whatever the situation is. Become the observer, then leave the situation. What if somebody does not like your partner but they make you extremely happy. And that person says something. Little digs. Leave…..No need to feel guilty either. If anybody needs to be guilty it’s the person saying the hurtful words.
Another broad subject that I help a lot of people with. Awareness is going to be your tool against manipulation. That takes putting space between you and the manipulator. Kind of and awareness and detachment. Now you can see it. You are not looking at it from an emotion body. You are aware and conscious. Once you gain awareness you can no longer be manipulated. Its like I said before…When I was removing myself from alcohol I would hear “Come on what the matter with ya” and yes I slipped. Then I became more aware. Aware of what I want not what they want. Knowing that I don’t have to drink to enjoy myself etc. So then you tune into the manipulation and stick to your guns so to speak. Then the family manipulation. That can be done a number of different way but the guilt trip is probably the biggest. How about when it comes to that wanting to leave to see ya friends. When somebody says, “Oh, you can go and see friends but cant spend time with the family”. Manipulation. They may not be conscious of it. They may be coming from a place of wanting to spend more time with you. Like I said this is another broad subject. But becoming aware is number one here.
Don’t feel obligated to go
Ask yourself “Am I going by choice or out of obligation” Sure we all have a little of that obligation. But if it is something that you really do not want to do, then don’t. Again No, comes into play. That boundary that is so important. If you are looking forward to alone time. Or time with just yourself and your partner then there is nothing wrong with that. Maybe do a timed phone call. Or vid chat, But again your choice. I know people that hate this time of year. Big word hate. I have a blog on that too. But these guys really do. Then unearth the roots and you will see why. Especially when alcohol is involved. They don’t want to be around it. The festive season is just the trigger to the underlying emotions. So, looking after you is OK. You don’t have to go. Its your choice. If people are coming to your own home, don’t feel obligated to bend your boundaries to benefit them, sure there is a little give and take, but if your uncle like to pick his teeth at his own table and you don’t want that at your table, nothing wrong with saying. Boundaries not Obligation. They may be your family members or good friends but you will keep a better relationship looking after you and saying no then felling obligated and saying yes.
Sounds easy right. How about the partner ya don’t like ya best friends dating? How about ya sister’s new fella? Remember their life and journey is their life and journey not yours. You are on yours and allow them to be on theirs. Sure, it may be a rocky one for them but that’s the lessons they need to learn. You can always choose not to be around them and lay the boundary of letting the friend or family member know this. Or, go for the person you love to be around. Who you care about and love plus accept the partner and be kind. Kindness will always win over aggression. Aggression fuels more aggression. Why do that to yourself and those around you? Where you put your energy, it will attract the same energy. If you are a walking anger bomb waiting to go off, trust me those around you will notice. What about children that know how you can be, my girls do. How would it make them feel if they are on edge with worry, that I would kick off? So, Happiness is a choice. Choose to be kind. It takes effort to smile and no effort to be miserable. Which one do you choose?
Yeah, may not sound easy but there is a lot to be present with. You are just in overwhelm and not thinking while you are there. Observing is a great way to be present. Just move your mind into what it right in front of you. Try, listening to just sound. Is it really loud and a lot of mixed noise? Close your eyes and listen to each sound. Pick them out without labeling. Pitch, distance etc. How about at the dinner table? You can close off what is happening around you by becoming present with the taste of the food. Done label what you are eating. I work with people doing mindful eating of an orange. I have had many responses after we are done. All of them with a look of wonder. They never really ate an orange until that day. Pick up the utensil. Take a small piece. Place it in your mouth and put the utensil back down. Become present with the food. Hot, hold, wet, dry, sweet, sour, texture, color…. you name it you bring it to presence. Listening is presence. Tune in. All the while you are present your mind is not wandering. It only knows what you tell it. Practice presence in your daily life not just around the festive season. I teach people presence and once somebody gets it things shift.
The one thing to remember and think about. Happiness! Does it make you happy? If not, change it.