Louise Thompson: Relative harmony
There is a tremendous quote from American spiritual teacher Ram Dass that I thought would be particularly pertinent as we hurtle towards the festive season: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family”.
Nothing, bar nothing, in this world (with the possible exception of the current incumbent of The White House) pushes everyone’s buttons so thoroughly and consistently as family, however much we love them.
Here are my top tips so you can spend Christmas kicking back with a cold one on the beach, not hiding in the walk-in wardrobe from your extended whanau, drinking gin through a straw.
You can change the dynamic
If the way things usually roll out drive you crazy, you don’t have to accept the status quo: shocking news I know, but true. It only takes one person to change in a dynamic for all sorts of subtle shifts to occur.
If you are sick of the sniping and bitching, the next time your brother comes to you to moan about the way your sister is organising the beach cricket, don’t get into it: ask him to address it with your sister directly. If you are sick of being the one who does all the buying of the food, email round a list of bring-a-plate responsibilities 10 days before.
I’m not saying people will like it, but I am saying you can shift the dynamic by making deliberate shifts yourself.
The only thing you “have to do” is breathe.
Everything else is a choice. Christmas is not only the time of good tidings towards all men, but also can be an absolute obligation fest filled with “have-tos” and “shoulds” of varying shapes and sizes.
Nothing creates overwhelm and burnout like an obligation fest: so if the pressure is rising I’d like you to step deliberately back into your personal power and remember the only thing you HAVE to do is breathe, everything (truly, everything!) else is a choice.
Driving on the roads at the same time as everyone else is a choice. Doing 19 different side dishes, because everyone must have their favourite at Christmas, is a choice. Choosing to write a Christmas card to everyone you have ever met since you were at school, as you don’t want to be rude, is a choice. So, choose well.
The reality is you have a finite amount of time, energy and attention: make powerful choices about where those finite resources get spent. “I have to” is disempowered, “I choose to” or “I choose not to” — that’s owning your right to decide where your most precious resources go.
There is no apology required for using discernment and saying no. Reaching Christmas Eve a frazzled mess serves no one. Your Christmas: your choices, so, no guilt needed for opting out of excessive obligations. Choose decisively and well. One of the best Christmas gifts on offer to those you love is being energised and present and full of mojo and sparkle!
Through her online Happiness programme “Wellbeing Warriors”, life coach Louise Thompson helps people unlock their happiest and healthiest life. Sign up at louisethompson.com and find more from Louise at bite.co.nz/wellbeing