Here are my top 10 best ideas for improved interpersonal relationships, during the holidays, and anytime:
1. Set an intention for an enjoyable time. When you are getting together with family or friends, remind yourself of all their best qualities and the fun you’ve had together in the past. Anticipate that you’ll have those great experiences again. It may not pan out, but you often get what you expect to get, so go in expecting a good time together.
2. Ask for what you want but then be OK with the answer that you receive. If you’d rather not have Great Aunt Irma’s casserole surprise for dinner, ask if you can bring the dinner or if she’d make your favorite meatloaf instead. If she says no, it’s not Christmas without casserole surprise, than eat a big snack before going over there and pick at the casserole with a smile.
3. Lighten up and turn things that might otherwise annoy you into a game. I have a family member who likes to bash celebrities during holiday dinners. It used to really upset me, but now I wait for it and time how long it takes before she starts in. I also speculate as to who is on her list this year. It really helps to take the edge off how I annoyed I feel. In fact, it’s almost like a family tradition at this point.
4. Stop expecting them to be different than they are. It’s really kind of silly when you think about it to expect people to suddenly act in a way that is other than you’ve always experienced in the past. Either just deal with it – perhaps by inventing a game like the one I mentioned just a minute ago, or maybe you’ll decide not to put yourself in that person’s path at all.
5. Be a victor not a victim. Take responsibility for your own happiness and don’t do things that make you unhappy or upset. Letting other people push you around, decide your schedule, or otherwise run roughshod over you is not going to make anyone happy. It doesn’t have to turn into a drama, just be firm and matter-a-fact about what you intend to do. If you anticipate running into a sticky situation, make a plan before-hand of how you will handle it. “If Dad starts to drink too much, we’ll excuse ourselves and go back to the hotel” (the one you booked knowing that Dad was likely to drink too much.)
6. Stop trying to please everyone else. It’s definitely a kind and considerate thing to take into account what other people want and to accommodate their wishes if you can, but don’t do it at your own expense. Placating other people rarely keeps the peace anyhow and then no-one is happy.
7. Pick your battles. Of course, not every little thing is going to go just as you’d like. Decide which ones are worth taking a stand on and which ones should just roll off your shoulders.
8. Don’t take it personally. Hardly anything that anyone does is really about someone else. We human beings are just too wrapped up in our own stuff to think that far ahead. And even if someone looks like they really went out of their way to be unkind, it’s still not really about you, so try to receive it that way. This is more challenging to practice with family members and others who we are close to, but it’s just as true.
9. Step back and calm down. If you do feel yourself being activated by someone else, take five and count to 10 …. Or go for a short walk, or whatever you need to do to remove yourself from the immediate situation so that you can regain some perspective. Offer to clean up the kitchen or to pick up some more snacks….anything to de-escalate.
10. Express your concerns to someone “safe” before-hand. Before having the entire clan over for dinner or heading out to grandma’s house, talk to someone you are close to about any fears or concerns you have about the event. Don’t try to generate solutions – just name what’s on your mind as a way to diffuse it.
The Radio Spot
The next Spiritual Integration with Life Coach Laura show will air live on Friday, December 31 (and every last Friday of the month) at 11:30 ET on internet station, Blog Talk Radio.
All shows are recorded and available on demand at the same link and on iTunes immediately after the live airing.
This month I’ll be talking with Sandy Seeber. Sandy is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Healing Touch Practitioner (CHTP), and Associate Healing Dao Instructor (AHTI). She holds certifications in energy psychology, healing touch, the enneagram, tai chi and chi kung, and is a Veriditas trained labyrinth facilitator.
She offers counseling, healing touch, and energy psychology through her private practice and is a cofounder and instructor with Three Treasures Tai Chi LLC. Sandy will talk about using the enneagram as a tool to know yourself better, the surprising benefits of labyrinth walking and preparing for the new year. www.sandyseeber.com
To listen live, click here on the day of the show (Friday, December 31 at 11:30 ET).