The Holidays are officially upon us! With all the additional food and fun, comes increased time spent around friends, family and people in general. Although we look forward to sharing quality moments with those we care about, some interactions may at times be a bit overwhelming. Whether it’s the mother-in-law who is less than subtle with her critiques, or the hoards of shoppers who seem to be oblivious to their surroundings, it can be easy to give in to the stress and tension that the holidays have a tendency to bring about. So how does one avoid losing their cool during the “most wonderful time of the year?”
Pause and Reflect. Often times we get so caught up in how others are making us feel, that we neglect to consider how our actions elicit reactions from others. When caught in a conflict, ask yourself these 3 questions:
- “Am I making the situation better or worse?”
- “Is what I am saying/doing causing the person to act the way they are?”
- “How would I react if I was on the other end of this situation?”
It can be hard to accept that perhaps our tone could be the reason a family member is acting contentiously or acknowledging that we may have in fact gotten in someone’s way without realizing. However, reflecting on how you affect others and being honest with yourself gives you the power to alter your actions, and ultimately, the outcome. If you’ve always rolled your eyes when your braggart cousin starts talking, or have a tendency to be short with the cashier when the checkout line has been too long – try changing your attitude towards them, and you may be surprised at how their demeanors change too.
Give the gift of listening. Many problems can be solved by taking the time to listen and converse (and I don’t mean spending hours listening to your chatty aunt). We hear it all the time, “the holidays make people do crazy things,” but rarely do we pause to allow others the opportunity to more clearly explain their thoughts or reasoning behind something prior to making assumptions. Maybe you have a relative that always insists on hosting the big dinner even though it’s out of the way for your family. You’ve always assumed it’s because they don’t want to travel and prefer to be comfortable in their own home. You learn that in fact, they thought they were doing your family a favor by preparing the meals (which takes a lot of work) and they thought you wouldn’t want to have the pressure of hosting. By initiating judgment-free communication, you open the floor to clear up misunderstandings. Now, it doesn’t mean you’ll always agree, but you will at least have more insight into why the other person has felt and acted the way they have.
Finally, there’s no such thing as perfect. During the holidays we all feel pressure to create the most picture-perfect and memorable experiences, but by being in the present, those memories create themselves. We often speak about it in the realm of Estate Planning; “The best things in life are not things.” It is important to shift your focus away from what could be better, to what is already good and positive, in order to experience the best of what the holiday season has to offer.
Projects and Events Coordinator
American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys, Inc.
9444 Balboa Avenue, Suite 300
San Diego, California 92123
Phone: (858) 453-2128