Spiritual teacher Ram Dass once said: “If you think you are so enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.”
Many of us look forward to the connection with friends and family coupled with
the traditions of the holidays. For others, the holidays are a trying time and can bring out the worst in us. It is also inevitable that at some point we experience life changes such as divorce, empty nesting, or the loss of a loved one that create a sense of loss and grief.
We can often be surprised that no matter how much work we may have done to live as calm, conscious, loving people, being around our families can bring out the inner toddler or teenager who reverts back to strong emotions and behaviors that were familiar to us as kids. However, no matter the circumstance, you can consciously focus on how you want to show up for it all.
Here are three tips to put all of that self-care and personal development that you’ve practiced all year into action:
What were your favorite ways of taking care of yourself this year? Did you spend more time reading? Did you develop a morning or evening routine that made life flow more easily for you? Did you spend time on meditation, journaling, or on a gratitude practice? Jot down your top 3-5 favorite ways that you took care of yourself this year and do as much of them as possible. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the holiday craziness take over. Keep up with all those feel-good habits so you can stay centered and grounded and then let that shine out for the world to see. When you show up with a calm and peaceful glow because you took care of yourself, you can cause ripple effects for those around you.
Respond, Don’t React
One of the most freeing things we can learn as conscious humans is how to respond from a thoughtful, centered place rather than giving in to knee-jerk reactions when we are provoked. You probably already know what certain family members will say or do during the holiday festivities that typically set you off. This year, try visualizing that moment before it happens, and imagine yourself responding the way your Ideal Self (or Higher Self) would. You have a better chance of responding in a new way if you spend time practicing it first. And maybe the dynamics in some of your relationships will shift as a result.
Just because something has “always been done this way”, doesn’t mean that you’re obligated to keep doing it if it isn’t in alignment with who you are now. Did you focus on minimizing and decluttering your home this year? Choose simple mindful gifts instead of large extravagant ones. Did you lose a loved one this year? Begin a new family tradition by writing letters to them, or simply go around in a circle sharing memories of them. Did you start practicing healthier eating habits this year and the thought of eating the traditional holiday meal with your family makes your stomach turn? Bring alternative side dishes to share. You could be the inspiration for someone else to make healthier food choices. Or you could end up taking a lot of leftovers home. Either way, you’re winning!
Be Kind To Yourself
Most of all, remember to be compassionate with yourself. There is no goal for perfection here. It is about setting an intention to practice new emotional reactions, perspectives and behaviors, which also includes learning how to love yourself, no matter what!
Here’s to an intentionally mindful holiday season, and a fresh start to 2020!