With Christmas just a breath away, nearly every woman I know is hanging on by a thread. We’re done or nearly done with shopping (thank you Amazon Prime), we’ve settled the score with UPS and FedEx, we’ve baked and cleaned and wrapped and picked out something for everyone in the house to wear to church or to the family celebration. We’ve planned the menu and found the stockings and whipped up reindeer food. We’ve watched Christmas movies and sung carols and driven around to ooh and aaah over the lights. We’ve seen a show and wished for snow and donned our Christmas jammies.
We’re just about ready.
Now let’s try something. Lets try to keep ourselves centered and present as we gather with family and friends and intermingle their needs and habits and emotions with our own. Doing that with grace makes all the shopping and baking look like child’s play.
It’s hard enough to quiet the voices in our own heads, but when we add the voices of siblings and parents and aunts and uncles to the mix, it can take every last ounce of patience we have to show up as our best selves.
These wise words from author and coach Tara Mohr recently crossed my desk and I thought I’d share them with you as you enter this week of family gatherings.
Note that Tara references her book, Playing Big: Practical Wisdom for Women Who Want to Speak Up, Create, and Lead, in a few spots, so if you are curious you may want to pick up a copy for yourself. I loved it and I’ve given it to a number of the women I coach, too.
Okay, here we go….
1. Notice your inner critic over the holidays. Your inner critic might be grumbling to you about what clothes do and don’t fit this year, or comparing your mothering to your sister-in-law’s, or berating you about not making or buying the right gifts. As we’ve talked about before, quite often the inner critic voice is so familiar to us that we don’t recognize it for what it is. This year, you can notice it, name it, and use the tools – from working with your IC (inner critic) character to removing it from the space to compassionately seeing its motives. You can choose to be directed by another part of yourself – the part that wants to connect, enjoy, and treat you with kindness. (See Chapter 1, The Inner Critic, for more.)
2. Draw on your inner mentor. How does your inner mentor handle that tricky family dynamic? What’s the spirit in which she gives and receives gifts? How does she approach eating, drinking and physical self-care during the holiday season? This is a great time to draw on her and use her as your compass. (See Chapter 2, The Voice of Inner Wisdom, for more.)
3. Unhook from praise and criticism. Remember that powerful idea from Playing Big – that feedback doesn’t tell you about yourself; it tells you about the person giving the feedback. Over the holidays, you can apply this principle to the feedback you get from loved ones on … your cooking, your appearance, your parenting, your home, your gifts … you get the idea! (See Chapter 4, Unhooking from Praise and Criticism, for more.)
4. Build your success architecture. Is there anything you are hoping to do over the holidays, simply by using self-discipline or willpower? Whether it’s the desire to stay active, or keep up a personal practice like journaling or meditation, or something else, think about how you can set yourself up for success. What routines, sources of accountability, gift-goals or other supports can you put in place so that you can keep up your positive behaviors easily, even almost effortlessly? (See Chapter 10, Let it Be Easy, for more.)
Last but not least, I’ll share a few of the broader guiding principles that help me navigate the holidays:
1. I cannot control what other people do. I can reflect on what I want my contribution to the situation to be, and then bring that forward.
2. I really cannot control what other people do. 🙂
3. Let me be a representative of love in this situation. (This is a prayer/intention I use a lot in my life all year long, and it’s great for holiday gatherings, too!)
4. Every day, I will practice these basics to take good care of myself… (For me, these include schlepping to get healthy food, reading spiritual literature, and writing every day.) Fill in what they are for you! Little forms of self-care make a huge difference in keeping us centered, particularly when we are in the immersive environment of staying at someone else’s house or having house guests in ours.
5. Focus on what I’m grateful for, and keep a gratitude list to help with that. And remember to find the humor in every situation!
I hope all these reminders enrich your experience this holiday season.
– Tara S. Mohr
Those five principles from Tara are golden….take a minute to read them again now and let them really sink in. Pull them out this week when you need a reminder. It’s all too easy to get swept up in what everyone else is doing and forget to honor what you need.
Let’s try to remember that we’ll be much more resilient if we’re getting your own basic needs met (see #4 above). For me that list includes a full night’s sleep, a chance to exercise, a shower, good coffee, a little time alone, and some healthy food throughout the day to balance the cookies and peppermint bark!
I wish you and yours a warm and loving Christmas that you will remember fondly in the years to come!
This post was originally published December 23, 2015