- On December 16, 2014
Over the river and through the woods….whether you are heading home or relatives are coming to you, having family together can be a warm and happy–and incredibly stressful–time.
It seems no matter how old we get, the family dynamics revert back to when we were teens. We fall back into the dance we knew when we left home. A dance which often contains baggage that prevents us from moving into richer relationships.
Sometimes we luxuriate in the old patterns because it is a treat. Who doesn’t want to be fussed over and served home-made food that they didn’t have to make themselves?
But we also allow the bad juju – -old stereotypes, old grudges, old touch points — to perpetuate. We dutifully play our part in the dance. It’s only for a few days, after all.
This year, I’m going to change the dance. I am going to practice what I preach to my clients about living mindfully. I am setting an intention about the kind of person I want to be and the kind of relationship I want to have.
My intention is to practice empathy — listening deeply and without judgment–and try to really understand my mother. Not the mother I have in my head, but the one who’s sitting in front of me now.
One thing my mother and I have in common is we both love to cook. We are just polar opposites in how the cooking — and most other things in life — gets done. One minute together in the kitchen turns a lovely waltz into a head banging rave. You could say it’s one of our holiday traditions. And one I’d really like to change.
Having an intention of how I want to BE will change the dance steps I take when the ‘music’ pushes us into the old dynamic. If I can remain self-aware and mindful, then my intention should help me pull back from the old dance. I can choose a more productive response than the one that leads us down the well-worn path of frustration for both of us.
If living up to my intention works, even a couple of times, then it will be the best Christmas present I can give to either of us.
How do YOU want to BE this holiday?
What intention will you set when visiting with loud, and sometimes inappropriate, Uncle Joe? Or with Dad who still wonders why you left law school to become a health care worker?
Or with brother who has overbearing opinions on everything?
What dance will you do?
Photo by Tutti Frutti @Shutterstock