Not many of us come from the perfect we-all-agree-on-everything family. Most of us come from the imperfect we-don’t-agree-on-most-things family. And Christmas isn’t always the happy-present-opening-dinner-sharing time it’s looks like in the ads; it’s more often a tense-stressful-bickering-demanding-exhausting time.
We know one couple who have agreed to disagree, as the husband votes Republican and the wife votes Democrat. But their respective families don’t have the same agreement so when they get together it easily becomes a shouting match where whoever shouts the loudest wins.
So how to stay sane when those around you are getting irritated and you are the one taking the heat?
Deb used to sit with an elderly woman who only spoke in negatives: I can’t bear the food; I don’t like these clothes; it’s a miserable day, etc. “At first I would try to make her have a more positive attitude. Then I gave up and every time she said something negative I would just say a nice thing, whether it had anything to do with what she had just said or not. It worked! Very slowly, even unconsciously, she began to change her view.”
You can do the same with your irritating and demanding relatives: take no notice of the negative but just reply with a positive. It’s fun to see what happens!
Here are some other ways we can help ourselves:
- Take 3 deep breaths. When we get stressed we tend to take shorter and shallower breaths. Deep breathing into your belly immediately dissipates stress. If necessary, escape to the bathroom and lock the door while you do this.
- Take 5 minutes at the start of every day to be still and quiet. There may not be time to meditate for long but just 5 minutes will clear your head and connect you to your core. Repeat at the end of the day to let go of irritations and sleep better.
- Don’t pick it up. There are many times throughout every day when someone says something that irritates or annoys us. It’s easy to say to just let go, but far more effective is not to pick it up in the first place. Be like a duck, and let the negative feeling wash over you without stopping.
- Don’t put it out. Let someone else be right. Trying to win an argument with someone who thinks differently is a no-win situation. Getting our own ego out of the way by letting the other person think they are right makes life much easier. Watch how often your ego defends itself and how much happier you are when it doesn’t have to.
- Get happy. We were on a meditation retreat when the head teacher reminded us that our purpose for being there was to get happier. Each day he would ask us: Are you happier today then you were yesterday? Each day ask yourself the same question until the answer is a resounding YES!