The holiday season can be filled with joy and happiness – and it can also be brimming with overwhelm and obligation. The year-end can be experienced with a sense of well-deserved peace and closure – or regret or resignation about goals not accomplished. We can sometimes even feel all these emotions at the same time! Either way, this time of year can be stressful for many of us.
Feeling “out of control” at such times can increase our stress levels. What can we really control? Only ourselves – our mindsets and our behaviors. One of the most basic ways we can regain control is by focusing on how we are talking to ourselves – on the language we are using to portray our situation. Here’s a simple exercise you can do to immediately regain a sense of control.
1. Think of something you feel you have to do, but you don’t really want to do. Write it down in this format:
“I have to _______________.”
For example, “I have to complete all my year-end reporting and shop for holiday gifts and host my relatives during my vacation.”
2. Now, write the same phrase again, but insert it at the end of this sentence:
“I choose to _______________.”
For example, I choose to complete all my year-end reporting and shop for holiday gifts and host my relatives during my vacation.
What opens up for you when you read the two sentences? For me, I get reminded that I do in fact have a choice in the situation. While I might feel “forced” by circumstance or by other important people in my life, ultimately, my behavior is my decision. What also occurs to me is that I can renegotiate my commitments, or ask other people for assistance, or explore a number of other alternatives – I remember that I have options. And the more options we have, the more power we have. We can empower ourselves. Suffering is a choice!
Now, try a third step in this exercise:
3. Finally, write the same phrase again, but insert it at the end of this sentence:
“I get to _______________.”
For example, “I get to complete all my year-end reporting and shop for holiday gifts and host my relatives during my vacation.”
What occurs to you now, when you contemplate this new version of the sentence? I get reminded to approach life with an “attitude of gratitude.” Everyone reading this newsletter is living during an amazingly abundant time in human existence. We “get” to do so much that can feel like a burden, but which most people living now and throughout history could only dream of being able to take-on. It’s easy to lose sight of that with the bleak messages that vie for our attention. Of course there is lots of room for improvement, and lots of people live in extremely trying circumstances. And yet, we have such plenty and so much potential – individually and collectively. Change Intelligent people are aware of their mindsets and behaviors (and their impact on their circumstances and on those around them), and they have the savvy to shift their perspectives and actions when appropriate, in order to positively influence their workplace and world.
That’s my wish for you this holiday season – to be thankful, centered and calm – and to embrace change – and our roles in it – and all its positive possibility.