Holidays provide such rich opportunities to practice focusing on what is important. Often they involve the gathering of relatives and friends, some of whom we prefer not to engage with at all! Perhaps there is the sister, who seems to be consistently judging you. Or Uncle John, whose political beliefs could not be further away from yours and who is regularly ready to tell you how misguided you are. In these instances, we find ourselves preparing for the discomfort we expect will arise when we come together around what is advertised as a celebration. Doesn’t sound like much fun…
If any of this sounds familiar to you, and you have the desire to experience something better, as always, the first place to start is by examining the lens through which you are looking at “what’s going on here?”. Long term relationships can gather all sorts of garbage over time (and interestingly, when I looked up the definition of garbage, here is what I found “things that are no longer useful or wanted”) Past hurts, perceived slights, jealousy, etc. attach to us in ways that are often invisible to our conscious self but are deeply felt nonetheless, and cloud our view of the other. And while we may wish the person with whom we want to have a better relationship would just change the way they are acting, that will forever live in the space of “things you cannot control”.
It is easy to get caught up in the minutia and sucked into a line of thinking that does not serve. When I find myself doing this, it is often a result of me looking at things through a narrow, ‘what about me’, lens. With that said, I would never advocate suffering in silence – having a conversation about how you are feeling once you’ve closely examined this yourself is a useful, freeing step. And those conversations, when done from a place of honest care for the relationship, can minimize future suffering for everyone.
I have been examining my own assessments around holiday expectations lately, especially as my children enter that phase of their life where they need to divide time differently. It has been revealing as I consider the root of a hurt I might be feeling, or an opinion I have about “what should be happening”. What I have found to be most helpful in letting go of some of that is simply to take several steps back and seek a more expansive view – not just of the realities of people’s lives, but the beauty of who they are as human beings, and how blessed I am for their presence in my life throughout the entire year.
For all of you who allow me into your life with this blog most weeks, I am deeply grateful. I wish you a holiday filled with peace and joy.