Ah Christmas, a time where families come together to celebrate their togetherness and love for one another. But it’s not rosy for everyone. Christmas stress is commonplace for many families who may be juggling financial concerns or dreading the impending doom of spending the festive season with THAT family member.
It doesn’t help that we indulge in lots of rich food and alcohol, high expectations, and our much-needed personal space is invaded with little time for actual relaxation. It’s a potent combination, one that can be overwhelming on its own, even before throwing a potentially tricky relationship or two into the mix.
Yet, Christmas is framed as a wonderful time of year that brings everyone together in a giddy, harmonious way. Let’s bust some of the myths around Christmas by exploring some quotes about the festive season through a War to Peace® lens:
“Christmas waves a magic wand over the world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
This quote embodies how Christmas is portrayed in the movies and on television, and often subconsciously influences how we think. One element we explore during the War to Peace® workshop is that our beliefs and perceptions of the way things “should” be guide how we feel and behave. However, what we find when we dig deeper is that these perceptions are rarely based on objective logic, but rather social norms that are subjectively true at best.
Conflict often arises when our expectations aren’t met, leading us to feel as though we didn’t spend the time in the best way we could. Or we wonder ‘why does my family have to be this way when everyone else is having such a brilliant time?’. It’s much easier to blame the people around us for their perceived failings (or to self-flagellate) than to consider the role our expectations of how it ‘should have been’ have contributed to our disappointing experience. Consider how much more power we have when we recognise that our experience is governed by our thinking about it.
“At Christmas, all roads lead home.”
And if we don’t have a place we call home – or one that feels like ‘home’ – this could feel like the greatest sucker punch of the holiday season. But what if we considered ‘home’ in a more abstract way? What if all the roads at Christmas could lead us back home in a metaphorical sense, so that we returned to our true nature, without the filters we often place on ourselves at work? Perhaps this could relieve some of the pressure for us of Christmas needing to be a certain way that will almost never meet our expectations.
And for some of us, we have spent so much time away from our true nature, we no longer know how to access it, so even when we’re away from our workplace, we simply occupy another mask in order to cope with family life, especially where our extended family are concerned. Until I discovered War to Peace® I can honestly say this is how it felt for me, I really didn’t know what my true nature was any longer, even though I was being given plenty of signs to let me know! (Incidentally, if you’d like to be clearer about what your signs are, the open-access War to Peace® workshop will help you).
“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling.”
Another phenomenon we uncover with War to Peace® is the ‘assumed mutual feeling’. So the idea that we assume others will feel the same way about something as we do. Look at the frenzy and division caused by Brexit as an example, as the two sides become more and more entrenched in their position. Who hasn’t had some thought of ‘I can’t understand how someone agrees with that’? In a much lighter example, we can see the same issue with music, often assuming that someone will have similar emotional reactions about a song as we do, and being perplexed when they are not sharing the same joy when we blast out our favourite tune!
The War to Peace® methodology invites us to recognise and challenge our perceptions. And, even if we firmly still believe in the principles that lie beneath them, we will recognise that our ‘truth’ may not also be theirs, which can release that unyielding knot of confusion or righteousness.
Over to you?
- In what ways are your expectations of this Christmas setting you up for disappointment?
- How will you better prepare yourself emotionally for your interactions at this time of year? (For some ideas, you could read this article or this one.)
- Who and what will you say no to in service of honouring your true nature?
Do you know someone who could benefit from War to Peace®?
If you know someone who would benefit from a shift of perspective about someone they are struggling with, please let them know to register their interest here to be the first to know about the next available course with spaces.