HOLIDAY DISTRESS WITH FAMILY

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We all know the complaints: family grievances, stressful shopping, never enough time to get everything done, fatigue, and collapse. Therapists brace themselves for the holidays as depressed patients become more depressed, addictive patients become more addicted, and winter grayness casts its pall.

FIRST THINGS FIRST:

Stop Doing What Never Worked in the First Place

stop doing all the things that never worked to begin with. Placating doesn’t work. Acting nicer than you feel doesn’t work. Giving lavish presents to stingy relatives and resenting their lack of gratitude doesn’t work. So stop. When you stop trying to revive your expectations and just let others be who they are, much of your frustration will fall away.Second, look around and give others what they really want. I’m not talking about psychoanalyzing your family. Most people want simple things: appreciation, gratitude, validation, affection, and someone who will listen. When you consciously provide any of those things, magic occurs.

Don’t Blurt Out Hidden Feelings

Nobody loves a time bomb..Resist the impulse, no matter how much hidden resentment, criticism, or payback you feel entitled to express.Do the releasing in private. Write a letter, give a speech, rant and rave, or cry in private. If you sincerely release those toxic emotions in advance, before they have a chance to hurt anyone, you will escape one of the worst holiday traps.

Stay Out of the Box That Others Want to Put You In

Some people are difficult, and there’s no getting around it. You must tolerate their flaws, whether the irritant is a bad temper, a tendency to drink, cutting remarks, an air of superiority, or lethal self-importance—the actual flaw doesn’t matter. Difficult people won’t get under your skin once you realize that they don’t need to change in order to make you happy. Let them be. Don’t react. Don’t argue, and most of all, don’t act judgmental. It’s not your job to make a sinner into a saint. Engage instead on simple things. Ask about something that interests the other person. Sympathize with their problems without dwelling too long on them. Offer appreciation by noticing something that the person feels good about. In other words, tune in.

Do One Inspired Thing, No Matter What Anyone Else Thinks

Up to now, all my points have been about coping. But your holiday won’t be inspiring until you go beyond coping. The fact that you survived another Christmas or Thanksgiving isn’t really a victory. You will feel victorious when you rise to express an ideal such as love, kindness, giving, and caring. In other words, you need to be inspiring. Go inside yourself and find those idealistic impulses “they” won’t let you express, and realize that it was your own reticence, embarrassment, and timidity that has kept you feeling suppressed. If you don’t want to write a poem, you can offer a heartfelt toast, give a present that’s a touching remembrance, or provide appreciation to someone who is normally overlooked. Make someone who feels depressed laugh. Make an elderly person feel like the life of the party. You already know what raises your spirits. With that knowledge and a little forethought, you can raise someone else’s, and then the idealism of the holiday season will come to pass as a reality rather than one more missed opportunity.

– See more at: http://www.chopra.com

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