As we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas, many of us will have the opportunity to gather with family and friends. There is so much joy this time of year.
Whatever the makeup of your family, everyone feels a little stressed during the holidays. Some of you may feel a little more like Marge Simpson than Carol Brady as you entertain or attend large gatherings.
Expectations are formed, finances and gift giving come to the forefront, perfectionism can sneak in–any one of which can lead to anxiety. Unchecked, these can also result in holiday depression.
Wow, Gem, what a downer you are! Actually, I’m an optimist. That is why I want to talk turkey (get it, turkey) with you about your own heart as we continue on through the season.
I want to address just one idea that may help ease any tension that may arise as you get together with others. And this is the cool part. It is not about them. This is something you can choose to do for yourself. And it may help you achieve peace even in the midst of what can be a busy season.
Two words: Loving Detachment.
This not a new idea. Both the spiritual direction and 12-step communities have long touted the virtues of detachment.
In other words, everyone gets to decide for themselves how they will act, what they will say, and what they will do. The key to your peace is to let go and let them. The great news is that you get to decide how you will act, what you will say and what you will do.
You simply allow the other person to do what they are already doing…living their life the way they want to.
“But you don’t understand, my uncle so-and-so is a real piece of work. I can’t stand the way he drones on and on.” I hear you. That can be very disturbing and downright angering. But what good does that stomach acid do you?
Another of my favorite 12-step phrases: “Keep your own side of the street clean.” Once again, your uncle gets to decide his own curb appeal and so do you.
Allow the person to be who they are, here and now. You don’t have to be hooked onto their dynamic, you simply let go.
You can engage without judgment or anxiety. It is our own self-talk that usually exacerbates the already aggravating situation.
Take your own inner dialogue down a notch. And then change it up. Come up with creative thoughts that turn your heart toward the person in a more gracious way.
You could think of one of their good qualities and be thankful for that. You could pray for them (while they are droning) about the hard time they are experiencing at work or at home. Again, without judgment. You keep your heart open to them as a person, while protecting yourself from their acidity.
It is a beautiful thing to remember that each and every one of us is on a journey. We are all in process. Some are walking their process and others are not. But it is their choice.
The gift we give to ourselves and to others is the grace to let each one move at their own pace, by their own choice.