Holidays represent different things to different people. For most, a wide variety of emotions unfold. Some greet holiday time with eager excitement; others, with anxiety driven anticipation. Self-reflection may help reveal questions and answers that can lead to greater awareness, appropriate preparation, and a more joyful experience. There are many types of self-reflective questions that help identify and clarify our hopes, dreams, and goals; they may even help guide us so we can have greater control over the reality that follows.
Embarking upon a self-reflective journey may begin by including questions that help us identify strengths and weaknesses, so we can pair whatever gives us ‘stress’ with something that feeds our passion. One may begin by asking:
How do I feel about hosting vs being a guest? Why do I feel that way?
This may lead to clarification regarding self-perception of the tasks / pressures/ pleasures involved with each. For example, you might discover that hosting represents
- Sending out invitations
- Taking responsibility for all preparations including
- food (and related preferences/ sensitivities),
- baby-proofing the house (for guests who bring toddlers),
- making sure the temperature and lighting around the table is appropriate for elderly guests and those with limited eyesight etc.
One or more of the above listed tasks may be your passion; alternatively, one or more may bring you stress. Being a guest may involve responding to invitations and may include choosing which to accept and which to graciously reject.
How do I feel about the guest list? Do I prefer to make it or be on someone else’s?
Concerns surrounding ‘social obligation’ are difficult for many. Once you clarify these, the next steps become easier. This leads to additional key questions such as:
Am I including people (or accepting an invitation) through social obligation?
. . . the answer to which facilitates clarification, making next steps more logical and somewhat easier. Each question may help highlight one or more personal passions as well as ‘holiday associated energy blockers’ which may trigger a stress response (including anxiety).
Additional self-reflective questions may include:
Why am I uncomfortable around a particular friend or family member who seems to be easy going and/or the life of other gatherings I’ve attended? (Do I feel jealous or threatened?)
You may be shy and/or easily overpowered by that particular person’s energy. In this case, you might attend the gathering but remain physically apart from that person. If, however, your distaste for a particular member of the family creates such tremendous anxiety that it keeps other family members from getting together and /or puts a strain on one or more family members who otherwise enjoy holiday time, a professional mental health provider might be able to assist by facilitating the healing necessary to turn holidays into a harmonious experience for all.
Whether or not you or someone you know is a role model for countless admirers, most people find it helpful to use this filter before speaking: “is it kind, necessary and true?” Using this filter may help when trying to decide whether or not to say something. The guide is: choose not to speak if the answer to any of these is “no”. This informal rule may help when in conversation with another – especially when that person is grieving the loss of a dearly adored relative, friend or family pet. For those experiencing loss, holiday time may intensify the grief.
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Since the “Holiday Season” is filled with so many mixed vibrations – both positive and negative, it helps to have a few handy tools to help keep balanced before, during and after. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to look forward to each gathering with comfort, confidence and the ability to bring wonderful, healing vibrations to the celebration? If you are interested in learning more about how to neutralize anxiety, dissolve guilt, and provide peace and comfort to guests with whom you come into contact, you might enjoy the presentation entitled “Family Healing . . . in time for the holidays” on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 from 7:00 – 8:00 PM at the Pawling Free Library. (Space is limited so call the library in advance)