The holidays can be rife with bickering, arguments and disappointment with our partners. The stress levels of trying to have ‘the best Christmas ever’ or winning the approval from the in laws come Hanukah, mixed in with running kids to even more activities than normal, buying the absolutely perfect gifts for every one on your list, end of year meetings and reports by the sleigh load at the office, all while putting on your best sparkling party dress for dinners and drinks(!!) truly exasperates the cracks and wounds in our partnerships.
Happy F’ ing Holidays to one and all, right?
Ahem. Notice I used the words exasperates? Not creates?
Stress puts humans into survival mode. And in survival mode, our masks drop. Because, ain’t nobody got time for that. Old hurts, festering resentments bubble to the surface, unfettered by our normal level of control.
We lose out temper more easily. Our frustration levels skyrocket. And Bickering can become arguments to door busting fights in the blink of an eye.
The good news? Aside from some serious Zen Buddhist holiday makers (of whom I have yet to meet),
IT HAPPENS TO US ALL AT THIS TIME OF THE YEAR!
Then we do something incredible regretful. We open the door to shame, and invite it to our holiday party. We berate ourselves and our partners with phrases like… It’s Christmas For heavens sake! Or “Can’t we just have ONE holiday season without doing this??! , Really? You want to ruin the holiday season, again??
So how can we get better at this? How can we lean into the acceptance that stress is exasperating our emotional state without said exasperation taking over, and yelling like a banshee OR spending days doing silent treatment?
I want to offer up two concepts to help you navigate this holiday season with more compassion and place happiness under your tree.
Confirmation Bias is where we have already decided something is true, and then seek out, both consciously and unconsciously the evidence that supports our theory.
We say, “He’s ALWAYS late to get the kids!” And so, what do we focus in on? The two times he picked them up on time? Or the four he was late? When we are in confirmation bias mode, we won’t even be able to see the two times he got it right. All we seek, and therefore see, are the four times, he did not.
When we believe “Every Christmas, she gets so crazy, I can’t stand it!” We wait, quietly, patiently like that creepy Elf On The Shelf, popping out with a mighty AHA!! GOTCHA!!! When she comes in with yet another box of expensive Christmas baubles or snaps at the kids whilst decorating the tree.
In Confirmation Bias Mode, we are blind to the moments and events, where our partner behaved in total contradiction to this belief we are holding.
Confirmation Bias antagonizes our old resentments and annoyances about our partner.
We want to become way more mindful about our language. The language we use in our own heads, first.
Words like ALWAYS, NEVER, EVERY TIME, NOBODY, EVERY BODY are red light indicators we are formulating a limiting belief. These all encompassing, finite words make our emotions, what we FEEL LIKE sound all too factual.
ALWAYS late to grab the kids?
EVERY Christmas she gets crazy?
The reality is… it’s not ALWAYS, OR EVERY TIME, OR NEVER, OR EVERY BODY… but it can sure feel that way. And when we confirm those feelings with language, we are primed for a good fight.
Let us, at this wonderful time of the year, try to foster more goodwill in our partnerships. To spread more cheer to one another.
I’m rooting for you both to win, my darlings. Now, let’s get you rooting that way too!
p.s. Can you imagine if you applied the above, to a fraction of the family that drives you mad EVERY December?!?! ;) WOWZA!
Happy Holidays from me and the hubba hubba! xx