A lot of stress is caused in our lives in the pursuit of trying to keep other people happy, especially our family. This addiction reaches its peak around Christmas time. We have parents trying to keep their young children happy and older kids who have left home trying to keep their parents happy. Everybody wants to be happy and wants everybody else to be happy, so great lengths are taken to ensure everyone is being treated “fairly”.
The tragic thing about everyone trying so hard to keep each other happy around Christmas is that this process often results in a lot of stressed, disappointed and unhappy people. That’s right, it doesn’t actually work! This pursuit of trying to keep people happy is based on a misleading idea that we are responsible for other’s emotions, and that we have some control over how other people feel. If someone really wants to be unhappy it doesn’t matter what we do they will be unhappy. Likewise if someone wants to be happy it doesn’t matter what we do they will be happy.
So if we are choosing to let go of the idea of trying to keep each other happy, what do we replace it with? My experience after seven years of coaching is that the most beneficial replacement is to shift our focus onto what feels true for us, using our intuition instead of our expectations and judgements, to guide us. In order to make this shift we need to ask ourselves questions such as “What feels natural to me?” or “What feels right/true” and let go of questions that move us into judgement such as “What should I do?” and “What will they think?” or “What do I have to do?”. I guarantee the types of questions we ask ourself will determine the type of Christmas we experience!
A word of care, in this process of being true to ourselves at no point does this mean we need to be disrespectful or dismissive of those we are communicating with. Just because we are letting go of trying to keep people happy does not mean we throw gratitude and kindness out the window. When communicating our decisions with others it’s always essential that it is done with the utmost of courtesy and respect.
On a lighter note, the fantastic thing about pursuing a different path, where we are just being true to what feels right, is it gives everyone in our family the permission to do the same. We can say to our relatives and extended family, “I would love for you to do what feels right for you around Christmas”. So it really is about setting everyone free to do what is true for them, without trying to make other people agree with what feels right for you. Instead of trying to control others and defending ourselves we can simply celebrate difference and explore how these differences can live side by side around Christmas time.
So if you are looking for a more relaxed and enjoyable Christmas this year, let go of the idea of trying to keep people happy and replace it with simply engaging fully with what feels right for you. If everyone does this we may end up with a more peaceful Christmas time.