The emotional pressures that come with the holidays can really set us up for big disappointments and trying interactions. Here are some mindset shifts that can help keep you grounded under pressure.
Everything Will Not Necessarily Be Fine
If you tend to fantasize that “everything will be fine this time” when the reality rarely meets expectations, you are probably setting yourself up. The trouble is, emotional patterns are very stubborn, and the feeling states of childhood are usually right below the surface, waiting to recreate themselves when you’re triggered. These out-of-power feeling states are often created by the neurochemistry of your memories, so unless you make an effort to build new experiences with different feeling states associated with them, all you wind up doing is reinforcing your old emotional structures.
To counteract your pattern, try to have no expectations of how it will be, and just see what actually happens. This is really about presence, being in the now moment, non-resistant to what you actually find there. Presence is, in part, a function of your attention and what you focus it on. So, resist the temptation to talk yourself into anything you have to sugar-coat in order to make palatable.
Hold That Thought!
If you are triggered, wait until your emotions settle down before saying or doing anything. If you’re being pressured to speak when you’re upset, reply with something like, “I need time to consider this, so let me get back to you.”
If you’re in a full-blown reaction, sleep on it before deciding what to do. If you’re still feeling triggered in the morning, wait as long as it takes until your emotional neutrality returns. Don’t think for a minute that making any decision while you’re emotional is better than waiting for the clarity that naturally comes when you wait. Keep in mind that big emotional waves usually take about 3 days to conclude.
Do You Really Need to “Talk About It”?
The worst time to express yourself is when you’re reacting. When you’re triggered, there is only one thing to do: keep your lip zipped and wait until you calm down before talking about whatever it is. If you don’t wait until you’re settled down, what you will be expressing is your emotional reaction which is rarely, if ever, constructive.
Keep in mind that describing your initial reaction has nothing to do with expressing your true feelings. If you believe it’s healthy to “get it out” by verbally purging your distress and tension, you might want to reconsider. The irony is you cannot be in touch with your feelings until you are no longer reacting. In fact, restraining your communication until you are calm is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure that your words won’t do more harm than good. Waiting until you are calm helps to ensure that your interactions with others are in power and that the impact of your communication will be constructive. And that might take a couple of days!