Mindset Mastery and Conflict Alchemy
SIx PRACTICES FOR MAXIMIZING JOY, AND MINIMIZING CONFLICT
For many people, holidays are a time of great excitement, as well as increased expectations, stress, franticness, and potential conflict.
You can feel more relaxed and go with the flow more easily, though, with a few simple strategies.
(Even better? These strategies work any time throughout the year (or day), including the holidays.)
1) Dont climb the ladder of inference:
The ladder-of-inference (LOI) refers to the way we might jump to conclusions, and not just during the holidays! When we climb the LOI, we take one small bit of input, and draw a major conclusion which usually is not correct (or at least not complete) and which often ends in mind-closing and conflict-creating judgment of another.
This could mean that someone "gives you a certain look" or says something in a certain way, and that triggers a past association that leads to a negative conclusion. What happens then? You tend to take a conflict-producing position that the person is somehow "against you." Needless to say, climbing the ladder of inference creates tension, because we are often using old data that results in faulty conclusions, preventing us from seeing things in a more positive and accurate, way.
2) Broaden or soften your expectations:
There is an old saying: "He who has rigid expectations is always disappointed." You can probably sense the truth of this wisdom. As you approach the holidays, intend to open up your expectations, to allow for a greater degree of receptivity.
Experiment with allowing yourself to be pleasantly surprised, instead of holding very specific (and often impossible) expectations of others, gifts you want, how you want gatherings to be, and myriad other expectations that lead to stress.
By giving yourself and others a little bit more space, you will not be radiating judgmentalism, you will feel more relaxed, and you will have more room for the joyful spirit of the season.
One great way to do this anytime, anywhere, is to allow yourself a moment and one or two slow, deep belly-breaths to create that space -- allowing you to respond rather than react to what comes up.
3) Take responsibility for your mood and your actions:
Take responsibility? That doesn't sound like much fun, does it?
And yet, when we adopt this approach we're really taking our power back from things that are outside of our control. Can you say "Ahhhhhh" (as in relief!).
Practice setting aside the "they made me feel
" or "they made me do
" approach. Instead choose to own how you want others to experience you, and how you allow others to affect you.
The great thing about experimenting with this strategy is that it doesnt matter what others choose to do, or how they choose to be. If they choose to be cranky, demanding and impossible to please, see that as their choice.
You, however, can choose to be relaxed, kind, joyful, receptive, playful, and whatever other reflections of this joyful holiday season you put on your list.
Imagine the irritants as little leaves floating down a stream, and right on by you.
4) Attune to pronoia and scan for beauty:
Albert Einstein, nearing the end of his life, told a friend, "The universe is an inherently friendly place."
Einstein's insight is reflected in the philosophy of pronoia -- the perspective that the Universe (and thus everything around you) is conspiring for your wellbeing and good. Pronoia is the antidote or medicine for paranoia. Rob Breszny's book Pronoia goes deeply into this orientation.
What's life like when we wake up expecting that all of Life is conspiring on our behalf, and to go throughout our day scanning for this pronoia, grace, and beauty?
Needless to say, this is very different than most of us were trained, which was to always be on the look-out for the next potential pot-hole, road-bump, threat.
There is no time like a season imbued with deep meaning to make the choice to look for all that is wondrous and beautiful, instead of sorting for what people did not do, what did not happen, what expectations were not met, etc.
Add beauty to your immediate surroundings with flowers, candles, colorful wrapping, plants, or whatever else looks and feels uplifting for you. Use colorful pens and pencils. Wear something that makes you feel spirited and joyful. Breathe deeply, and feel grateful for the breathable air that gives you life. Notice all around you that is lovely, fresh, and good. Revel in the beauty of Nature.
5) Cultivate an attitude of gratitude:
Yes, it is the season to be grateful. And yet gratitude is not just a holiday affair. Studies increasingly show that feeling grateful helps to counter stress and its negative unhealthful effects. Active gratitude is also a foundation-stone for prosperity and abundance practices.
Identifying the many things for which we can be grateful, and expressing that gratitude in the moment, can be both uplifting and healing for you and those around you. At a minimum, look for opportunities to say "thank you" (you would be appalled at how often people forget this common courtesy!), and write out thank-you notes to people who gave you gifts or uplifted your spirits during the holidays or the past year. You will no doubt find many other reasons to feel grateful, once you start looking. Why not collect them all on a list?
Gratitude practice has yet another benefit -- it's a 'high vibration' focus that helps us cultivate and expand our heartfulness. According to research from the HeartMath Institute, the electromagnetic field of our heart-center is much more powerful than the electromagnetic field emitted by our brains. Gratitude is one 'state of being' that helps us to build our heart-power.
6) Breathe. Just breathe.
This is a simple-sounding strategy, isn't it? I mean, we're always breathing, right?
Well, much of the time we're breathing shallowly. And you'd likely be surprised at how often you're NOT breathing, but actually holding your breath or taking itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny little breaths.
When we're stressed, we tighten up and breathe more shallowly, higher in our chests.
So taking deep breaths, and reminding ourselves to breathe fully and deeply when we notice we're holding our breath or breathing shallowly?
Well, this can be one of the easiest ways to experience a miracle, because you'll feel more grounded, present, and relaxed with each of those gentle, full, deep breaths that make your belly move.
Many sacred texts and traditions hold the breath to be sacred, connecting us with the very essence of Life and all that we seek.
For a little bit more relaxation at the holidays (or other times), and a bit less anxiety and stress, breathe. Just breathe.