You love 'em and you hate 'em, right? As you spend extended time with family at this time of year, you may notice that you instantaneously revert into old childhood patterns of behavior. This built-in default mechanism can create pleasant experiences or tortuous ones until you understand what's arising and why. For instance, I'm the third of four kids and my older siblings are strong-minded so I was shy and withdrawn around our dinner table. I'd retreat into insecurities of not being as smart or as good as they are. These beliefs followed me into adulthood. Think about how you interact with your family. What's your role? How do you behave?
Let's say, you and your mother are on opposite sides of the political spectrum so you habitually argue and get agitated. Or perhaps, you borrowed money from your brother and haven't yet returned the loan so you're feeling ashamed. Or your spouse doesn't get along with your Dad so you feel tense when they're in the same room nevermind seated at the same table. Holiday get-togethers give us a wonderful chance to feel happy but they also bring up self-doubts, anxieties, conflicts and cause emotional distress.
FAMILY REFLECTIONS OF YOU
True, you don't choose your family but on a deeper spiritual level, you do. The triggers you experience are opportunities to see what needs balancing within yourself. Each of your uncomfortable experiences offers you life lessons to help you evolve. They are mirrors of your inner self. Your job is to notice them and change your reactions so you develop and grow into your personal greatness.
CHANGING YOUR REACTIONS
In the book Embodying the Power of the Zero Stress Zone that I compiled with world-renowned spiritual master Yogi Amrit Desai, Chapter 5 explains your "knee-jerk reaction" is "automatic and unconscious. It arises out of your past and can be dismantled only in the present. Unconscious reactions happen automatically but there is a part of you that is conscious and can witness and change your reaction. When you change your reaction, you change from the core. You change intensely. You shift your consciousness to accept the truth of what is instead of reacting to external conditions. This is your divine potential. Accessing your divine potential has nothing to do with what you are doing but how you are doing what you are doing."
By becoming mindfully aware of your reactions (evident from the disturbances you feel), you can choose to change. It's up to you. You can continue to get caught up in stress-producing conflicts or you can stop them in their tracks. I suggest using what I call "interruptors." These are tools you can develop and keep active in your inner toolbox. Here are two examples:
1. A simple one is to take a deep breath with a sigh. This release instantly signals your nervous system to calm down. You'll feel more relaxed, even in a heated situation. It will help you "see" the bigger picture and think more clearly.
2. Another is to use an affirmation such as "I'm full of love and light. I'm calm and relaxed." or "I'm joyful and happy." By reciting a positive statement, you create an energetic impact on both your body and brain that immediately shifts you in the present moment. You feel different...better. (For more affirmations, I include over 25 of them in my book Escape From Anxiety--Supercharge Your Life With Powerful Strategies From A to Z.)
When you accept your human vulnerabilities, it'll be easier to accept and forgive others. Honor yourself as you are and let go of old grievances. Be mindful and set aside differences. Try practicing the art of unconditional love. Be understanding. The dynamics in many families cause members to hold onto anger and irritations for years and years but, when asked, cannot even remember what caused the rift. If others get upset or distressed when something goes awry, chances are they’re feeling the effects of holiday stress and depression. Be compassionate. Forget the past and be present in the moment. Stay in your personal power center by using "interruptors." Allow your family holiday time to be "good," filled with joy and love! As Nike says: "Just do it."
If you'd like to develop your own personalized "interruptor" tools, I can help. As an internationally-recognized Personal Development Coach. I can guide you via phone or Skype. To schedule a session, email me at Peggy@PeggySealfon.com and put "Release My Triggers" in the Subject line! I'll be in touch to support you. Or sign up for my monthly enew which offers ongoing information and techniques to live your life more fully and vitally.