The holidays. How were they for you (really)?
If you had a brilliant time, that’s great. However, if your irritation at family members over the festive period has rumbled on into January and you’re finding it hard to shake off, you’re not alone.
On the War to Peace workshop, we talk about what we are ‘feeding’ our emotional state. This might be nourishment (self-care, laughing with friends, meditation etc), or it might be junk (late nights, gossiping, addictive behaviours etc), and what comes out, in terms of emotional resourcefulness, is pretty much a reflection of what goes in.
At Christmastime, our emotional state – and our bodies – tend to get fed lots of rich food and alcohol, high expectations (both our own and others’), and, often, a personal space filled with visitors, decorations and presents galore. It’s a potent mix, and one that can be overwhelming on its own, before adding in a potentially tricky relationship or two. No wonder so many people are at War over Christmas!
Of course, there are plenty of ways to deal with a warring state of mind, but if you find yourself on the other side of Christmas, battle-scarred and bitter, read Caroline’s story and see if it can help you to bring yourself – and your relationship with the ones who have irked you – back to being ‘at Peace’.
“My dad and stepmother came to visit for a few days over Christmas. My stepmother is always ‘high maintenance’ so I prepared by shopping and preparing food in advance (often a sticking point) and arranging plenty of ‘escape’ times with my husband so we could get a breather. However, she seemed determined to push every button going: moaning, complaining and criticising everything from my weight to my parenting skills. Although I started off coping well, by the end of her visit, my emotional resources were at an all-time low and I cried with relief when they drove away.
However, a few days later I realised that I was letting her ruin the rest of my holiday too. Over the New Year and beyond, I found myself telling anyone who would listen about how awful she had been. Each time I told the story, I wound myself up further and further until I felt as angry as I had done when she was criticising me. But she wasn’t even there anymore. I was doing it to myself!
Eventually, my husband – who had been as upset as I had – suggested that we continued to talk about the experience if we needed to, but with some guidelines. We would only talk about it with each other and rather than judging my stepmother’s behaviour, we would just let off steam about our own feelings. Finally, we agreed that each discussion (or vent!) would be a maximum of ten minutes. A few days later, we found that we had stopped talking about it.
When we were creating allies by moaning about her to other people, we had been inadvertently fuelling the fire that she had started. When we stopped, but gave ourselves permission to vent occasionally, the flames of our anger died down quickly. I felt able to send my stepmother a chatty email a few days later, and my husband and I have discussed ways of keeping contact with her in a way that we now find manageable. By shifting our attention away from complaining about her behaviour that we could do little about to what we could do something about – our feelings and future arrangements – we regained perspective and were able to be at Peace again.”
Over to You
- Could you be giving someone else power over your feelings by replaying a bad situation over and over in your head and in your conversations?
- What parts of this remembered situation do you have any power to change?
- What could you do to stop being ‘at War’? What will you do?
Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace?
If you know someone who would like to stop being at War with a family member, colleague or friend, we are running our next open-access War to Peace workshop in London on Friday 3 March. To book a space, click here. Please note, we have just 4 spaces left.
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©Halcyon Global 2017