Dec 17, 2017
#1 of 10: Compassion
Did you know that your emotional maturity can stop/slow at the age you experience some kind of trauma? Someone you know may have gone through something traumatic, and you don't know it... and you may wonder why they don't act the way you "think someone their age should act" or function in life the way you think they should. Have compassion... we never know what someone else has gone through. Remember this over the holidays when you may be having to spend time with people who grate on your nerves. It's the season of giving... try giving compassion.
#2 of 10: Grief
Grief is a very individual and personal experience. No one can decide how long, or in what way, another person should grieve. Grief also isn't something over which you have control - it can hit you when you least expect it, out of the blue, at the most inconvenient times. The holidays are difficult for some because this is a time of family, friends, gatherings, and traditions - a perfect combination for reminding us of the absence of someone who used to share in the holidays with us. If you're grieving, allow yourself to feel what you feel, and give yourself the time to reflect on the memories. That's why we make memories in the first place. If you know someone else who may feel some grief this holiday season, be understanding and encouraging. An emptiness in someone's life can be painful, and you can help to fill it with your kindness.
#3 of 10: Regret
Cognitive dissonance is a "discomfort" our brain experiences when our beliefs or values don't match our actions. Similar to guilt -- our brain needs to fix the dissonance, and so we either change our behavior, or we justify our actions, and sometimes we change our values/beliefs to match our actions.
One emotion we have sometimes that creates this is... Regret. We can regret something we did, or something we did not do, but it's about wishing we had done things differently in the past. We can't change the past - only the present, which leads to the future. If you have regrets related to a person in your life, what will it take to change things going forward (knowing you cannot go backward and change the past)? This holiday season, try to eliminate the regrets in your life, because regret will steal your peace. Maybe you can make an effort to bring peace to yourself... and in the process, perhaps you can also bring peace to someone else.
#4 of 10: Forgiveness
What does Forgiveness really mean? Webster's defines it as, "to cease to feel resentment against,". and the Bible defines it as "letting go," or pardoning someone, as well as releasing associated guilt. So if someone has done something to offend you, and you forgive them, you are relieving them of all guilt, letting go completely of their obligation to you in any way related to the offense, and you are making a decision to not hold resentment for the offense.
Does this mean you need to resume the relationship? Not at all. If someone has shown themselves willing to offend you, you do not have an obligation to continue to be a willing recipient of further offenses. They've shown you who they are, and you can choose not to associate with them any further based on this knowledge. However, you're walking away with peace - this peace is for you. This peace is to keep you from carrying around anger, resentment, bitterness, and negativity. You absolve yourself of the feelings or emotions related to the offense, and you "let go," moving forward, not looking at the past or holding grudges. I can't think of a single reason not to do this... I like peace. Who will you forgive this holiday season?
#5 of 10: Generosity
When you have more than someone else, is it your nature to give and share what you have, or to hold onto (or flaunt) what you have? Generosity is seeing an opportunity to enrich someone else's life by giving to them, without expecting a return. This may be money, but it can also be time, physical help, advice, encouraging words, or just simple kindness. Generosity is saying, "I have something to give, and this person would feel better, or benefited, if I shared," and then making that happen. If you're storing up whatever it is you have, for "someday," and not sharing now, you're holding back from being a blessing to someone who needs you. You may have earned whatever it is you have, but this is because you're blessed with abilities that someone else may not be blessed with. It takes a village.. if we all help each other, with a generous heart and a giving spirit, there will be more hope.. more peace... more kindness. What is it that you have, that you can share with others? I encourage you to practice generosity -- give without expecting anything in return, just because you can, and because you never know to whom you may be giving a glimmer of hope and encouragement.
#6 of 10: Values
I turned 50 last year, and I spent the year doing deep reflection on who I really am. I set aside all the opinions and values I had been raised with and took the time to decide what my own genuine values really are, with the goal of using those values to make all future decisions about my life. Because of this goal, I can live as genuinely ME, will have more peace and fewer regrets, and will also find myself associating with people and activities that share my values and my direction in life. I know what kinds of people and things cause me to feel negativity, and I avoid those whenever possible. I am drawn to what/who encourages me, to people I respect, and to situations that support my life-path. Knowing what your real values and priorities are is the first step in this process -- then you will more easily find yourself with a mate, an employer, friends, activities, etc. that share your values - and you will have less conflict, and more peace. What are the things you value, that you consider a priority in life? Use the table below and narrow it down to your most important 10 - and then try to narrow it further to 5. How many things/people in your life fit within those 5 values?
#7 of 10: Struggle
All of us struggle, at different points in our life. The holidays are a time of struggle for many people, as they are dealing with some sort of pain, loss, or change. Change can be difficult - even good changes in our life cause stress, which can chip away at our strength, and lower our reserves. If you're dealing with pain, loss, or change in your life, remember that this is just a phase - it's temporary. Though the holidays may feel very difficult, even painful, in a matter of 2 weeks we'll be past the holidays and into a brand new year. A new year can be a fresh start, with hope for better days and happy moments still to come. Hang in there. Think as many positive thoughts as you can, all day long, every day... if you do this for 42 days... your brain will start to rewire itself to automatically think happy thoughts instead of negative ones. Give yourself time. Be good to yourself. Look forward to the new year, and make good things happen.
#8 of 10: Receiving
I think most of us are happy giving gifts, and enjoy the moment when our gift puts a happy or excited look on their face. It's a good feeling..giving. You can almost never lose, when you give.
Receiving, sometimes, is more difficult - particularly for those of you who are "givers." Think of the line of work you're in -- are you in a giving or caring role? Law enforcement, emergency response, social workers, medical workers, public & social resource providers, teachers, therapists, etc. -- all of these are people who like to give.
But how well do you receive? I'd like to help you learn to receive, as well as give. When others give to you, put yourself in their place. By stopping someone from giving to you, you're removing their ability to feel the same joy and happiness that giving brings to you. Let them do this. It builds a bond between people when they give to each other. One-way giving is like one-way communication -- it only feels good for one side, and it isn't shared.
Give to others - believe me, it's the best feeling in the world. But let others give to you, also. Be a gracious and joyful receiver. By doing so, you share joy with someone else - and that's a gift in itself.
#9 of 10: Family
Families and holidays just go together. There are quotes about family-- the people who accept you unconditionally, love you no matter what, and have your back when the rest of the world doesn't. But this isn't always reality. Family can be the most critical, or the ones who don't even know you at all. They've known you the longest, it's true, but they may not see the you that you've become.
Sometimes we create new families - those friends who have chosen to be in our lives because they love who we really are, and they've been by our side through some really hard times, as well as shared the best memories. These are people who go out of their way to make you smile, who know immediately when you're having a bad day. These are the people that call you to check on you, or spend time with you, simply because they really, really like you. You make each others' lives better.
If you feel alone or stressed about family time, remember the family you've built -the ones you've invited in, who are excited to be a part of everything you do, and who truly accept you.
Family = Unconditional Acceptance. Remember to be good family, and be thankful for those who are good family to you.
#10 of 10: Listening
Want to make this the best day ever? Just listen. I mean really, genuinely, deeply listen to others. Spend your Christmas day listening – to children, family, friends –you’ll be giving someone a gift like no other.
Everybody… no matter what… wants to be listened to. It’s possible for you to spend the entire holiday weekend with your family, and never really listen to what they’re saying. But what a different holiday this would be if we would purposefully listen to someone as they’re talking to us. Ask questions like, “Tell me more about that…” and encourage them to share with you.
One of the hard parts about listening is keeping ourselves from wanting to share our own thoughts, opinions, stories, etc. But this holiday, try to make it less about what you want to say, and more about hearing what someone else is saying. Read between the lines, watch body language, ask questions – show genuine interest in what’s going on with another person. They may be going through something difficult that they may not otherwise share… you know how helpful it is when this is happening to you and someone listens to you. Or they may have something really wonderful going on, and they’re excited to share it – be the person they get to do this with.
Being listened to is a gift everyone wants to receive. It’s sometimes a difficult gift to give. But that’s what makes it even more special. Make a difference to someone today – give them the gift of being genuinely heard.