Holiday Survival 101

The Saying What Matters Lady wants to remind all of you that the Christmas season can be a stressful time. For those of you who never experience any holiday madness in yourself or others, no need to keep reading – this post isn’t meant for you. Everyone else – listen up.

Christmas can be a time when we make unrealistic demands on ourselves and the people around us. I think this is because many of us have been sold a Hallmark/Hollywood/TV version of what Christmas is supposed to be like. The subsequent jolt between that fantasyland and our own reality often equals stress. That stress can lead to behaviours that are not pretty to witness, in ourselves or others.

But don’t despair. The Saying What Matters lady is going to share a two-step plan that might help to temper some of the insanity. But first we’re going to need an insight to guide our way. When holiday madness rears its ugly head, I suggest we remind ourselves that the other person is acting from a place of extreme discomfort. No doubt his or her mismatch between expectations and reality is brutal. It’s not personal and it’s probably not about you at all.

Okay – two simple steps – and by simple, I mean simple to write, maybe even simple to remember, but extremely difficult to do. Why, you ask? When confronted with a person in the throes of holiday madness, you have to switch gears pretty quickly. Your first reaction is going to be to head straight to your own holiday madness spot. And I do mean quickly. We can often find ourselves immersed in a screaming match within seconds. Holiday madness is a very infectious type of illness. So, suppress your own insanity and give this a try.

1. Look right at the person and say – I see you are ________________ (fill in appropriate emotion – angry, upset, frustrated, sad, feeling like there is not enough liquor in the world let alone this house to make up for such a screwed up family). Pause to let this statement sink in. (Prepare yourself for the other person to say – you’re damn right I’m _______. Nod and repeat – I see that.)

2. Follow up by saying – I care about you (or love you or like you or appreciate you – whatever fits with this person and situation.) Hopefully this statement can be accompanied by a hug or pat on the back or whatever is appropriate.

If you are feeling particularly saintly, these two steps can be followed by a sincere invitation to dialogue – Would you like to talk? (The Saying What Matters lady gives fair warning, once the invitation is out there, you better be willing to put up with the possibility of some venting of steam before the person is actually ready to talk).

If you are right up near the top of the hierarchy of sainthood, you could add – What can I do to help?

But all kidding aside, the first two steps, carried out with sincerity, can snuff out the fuse of many an explosive situation before the TNT really ignites. What have you got to lose? Think of it as a Christmas experiment – try it a few times and see what happens. I’d love to hear how it goes for you.

Warning – this strategy is not meant to be a way to put up with the type of crap that no one should put up with. I think you guys know the difference. It’s just a tool to tuck away in your holiday survival tool belt.

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About francisguenette

Writer, blogger and author of the Crater Lake Series.
This entry was posted in Communication, Communication skills, Counselling, Grandparenting, Parenting, Photography, Self Help, Teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Holiday Survival 101

  1. Reblogged this on disappearinginplainsight and commented:
    A bit of a holiday survival strategy to think about as the Christmas busyness and family gatherings approach. Hope it helps.

  2. Pingback: Holiday Survival 2014 | through the luminary lens

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