As we find ourselves overwhelmed with more to-do’s on our list relating to decorating, parties and shopping, it’s often that we find more stress than joy through the holidays. Rarely do I meet people who feel that they managed the holidays well, and landed exactly where they wanted to be at the end of it all.
Thus, I am often asked by my patients how to best manage the holidays. It is an impossible question, as each person’s life is so unique and filled with a variety of different expectations to manage. However, there is a guiding principle that is remarkably helpful if we honor this impeccably. First, let’s learn from digging into “intentions.”
Why intentions rule our lives and we often don’t know it Intentions are not like goals.
It can actually have more power than a goal, as they relate to your daily moment-to-moment actions. Intention is defined as “a determination to act in a certain way: a resolve to action.”
Those magical words—determination and resolve—are the pointers to why intention has so much power. Intention is about a determination to choose actions according to a selected path. Or if we haven’t paused to choose a clear intention, then unexamined intentions are often operating to create misery and stress for us.
• No attention to our Intentions
But here’s the rub: We typically float through our lives with little attention to the intentions behind our actions. Something happens and we react based upon our past conditioning. We often dislike that very reaction, perhaps because it is stressful or perhaps it makes others feel bad or even perhaps because it simply gets in the way of our larger goals in life. But other times, it is much more negative and obviously so.
• Reactions are grounded in fear
If we pause to seek the intention behind reactive moments, we see that sometimes it is based upon a “justified” positive intention, such as getting the kids to listen or have our spouse change a unhealthy habit.
Around the holidays, we find many opportunities to react because pressure builds, and we get frustrated with traffic, our fellow shoppers or even family habits at the yearly party. Here, we might get upset, uttering something that is intended to “teach someone a lesson” or just give them a “piece of your mind.”
But if we search deeply, we see more is involved here. Your real intention is to have the world operate the way you want it to “right now.” The more our intention is to control our world to get it to conform to our wishes, the more often we are upset, angry or frustrated.
When angry and when we want to get even or get back at someone, this is even more absurd. We can certainly bring more anger or frustration to others through these reactions, but in the end we land far from happiness and joy.
Let’s cut to the chase: Ultimately, the basis of these reactions is fear. All of these ugly moments are grounded in fear and will always leave us feeling empty. Afraid we will be late. Afraid we won’t make a good impression. Afraid our spouse will not show up. Afraid the kids will fail. Afraid our holiday will disappoint. Fear, fear and more fear. Fear will always justify its ugliness and the reactions, but also leave us in unhappy states of mind.
Be grounded in fear or love: You can choose this holiday season
The point of this article is to bring awareness to your daily choices and realization that you can alter them. If you seek a solution for a more peaceful, easeful holiday season, that actually starts right now. Honoring your highest intentions is a wonderful and powerful option. Taken seriously, an intention will stay present in your daily life and keep you on track. However, the magic here is that you must choose this intention and then commit to giving it your ATTENTION.
Not just now, but every day. Write it down. Keep it in front of you. Tell others that this is your life now, to honor this intention. Let’s imagine you put love in front of every action, every word and bring it to calmly rest beside every thought that arises in your mind. Take a moment, close your eyes and just imagine this. It is possible for you to do right now. Feel it. Does it feel better? If so, pay attention to that. If you see that love can still keep limits, still think clearly and still have a voice, then you see that there is no problem bringing love to every moment this holiday season.
It’s about infusing your actions, your thoughts and your words with a base of kindness and love that allows you and those around to be at ease. It would seem that, for most of us, this would be a way to truly honor the values we want to emulate for our children during this potentially beautiful season of joy. Best wishes to all of you, and please consider allowing love to permeate your actions and words this holiday season.
Dr. Randy Cale offers practical guidance for a host of parenting concerns. For more information visit www.TerrificParenting.com.