We hope that taking Family Connections provided you with a toolbox of new skills. We are always inspired by the commitment that every participant brings, to learn and practice new skills and new ways of being in challenging relationships.
During the holiday season, it's often difficult to bring these skills to bear. Expectations are high, our time and energy is low, and the stresses and challenges build up.
So this holiday season, here's a reminder of a few basic skills you learned in Family Connections.
Four Basic Assumptions
Let go of judgement. We often don't know the whole story, and judgement and blame are polarizing, leading to escalating emotions. Give yourself time to pause and respond out of Wise Mind.
There's no one or absolute truth
The parties or big family events that some people love, are incredibly difficult for others. Put yourself in their shoes and consider whether it's really that important to insist your loved sit for hours at the big family dinner, or go to the concert that everyone else is looking forward to.
Offer up the possibility of doing something your loved one chooses, as a family or with a few close friends. And then practice acceptance if it doesn't work out.
We are all doing our best
If our family member is unhappy or distressed by the crowds, or lights, or family expectations, remember they are doing their best with the skills and resilience they have in the moment.
Be compassionate and patient, and show the same compassion and patience to yourself.
We can all do better
Bring your skills into any difficult situation and see whether they make a difference.
Remember the acronym, OPD-NOE?
Observe, Describe, Participate. Non-judgementally, One-mindfully, Effectively.
Simply taking the time to notice and get curious about what's happening, whether it's your own emotions or your loved one's words or behaviours, can make a big difference.
Don't get caught up in the hustle and bustle of expectations, rather, take the time to truly experience the precious moments. Be fully present in an activity your loved one asks you to share in - a favourite song, a silly game, a quiet moment away from the crowd.
Our family gatherings and holiday events don't always end up the way we imagined they would, or should be. Accept the reality that some things cannot or will not change, at least for now. Remember that the alternative to acceptance is to remain in suffering. We are free to choose suffering, but we don't have to.
We hope these reminders will reduce your suffering and help you have a holiday that creates positive memories for you and your family.