By Thomas Reid-Muller of The Hollies, Enniskeane www.thehollies.ie
How to prepare the Christmas turkey is one thing. Who you share it with can be quite another. Many people are looking forward to Christmas because they’ll spend time together with their family. But some are probably dreading it for the same reason, because relationship tensions might hover like a dark cloud over the house. If that sounds familiar, you might want to know what you can do to mind yourself and your relationships.
It always helps to study your own behaviour and your emotional responses to other people. If say, your mother-in-law treats you a certain way and her other relatives in a more pleasant way, you have choices: Take it personally and get upset and withdrawn (as usual). Or: take it personally and challenge her thus rocking the boat for the first time. You might want to rehearse that one if you want to risk it. It is not always possible but sometimes by promising to transform the relationship in exciting and positive ways, it can work. Or, you can study your internal responses and learn new ways of accepting her, accepting yourself and moving on to ‘pick your battles’ elsewhere.
There are many tools for self care when you feel tensions: Emotional Freedom Technique, breathing and mindfulness practice and Tai Chi Gong belong into this tool box, as much as Non-Violent Communication — this useful approach was developed by Marshall Rosenberg (cnvc.org). It is not just for direct and compassionate communication but also for understanding your triggers: what you feel when somebody else does or says something or doesn’t do or say what you think they should do or say is often an indicator of what you haven’t resolved in yourself and can’t forgive in others But don’t beat yourself up — compassion to yourself comes first. Unless you are kind to yourself, kindness to others can be unwholesome. The upset is usually more in how your mind interprets what others do, than in what actually happens. And you do have a chance to control your own mind…and less of a chance of controlling other people’s minds — although many would love to, and sometimes believe they can.
I’m proposing an entertaining pre-Christmas training for those who want to learn how to better protect themselves from emotional stress, and find calmer and more harmonious ways for relating…and sometimes this has to do with how you negotiate and maintain your boundaries. This is an energising practice that will raise your hopes and get rid of your tensions. This training could also be seen as a relationship jiu-jitsu…not heavy, but skilful, light-hearted with a good sprinkling of good natured humour and flavoursome Christmas food. Mulled tea and Christmas biscuits will be served for this training with a difference.
Give yourself a treat, Relationship Do-Jo, Thursdays, December 12 and 19, from 7:30 to 10 pm at the West Lodge Hotel in Bantry.
The same treat will be offered in Cork City on Mondays, December 9 and 16, from 7 to 10pm at Dervish, 50 Corn Market Street in Cork City.
Thomas Riedmuller, experienced family and community mediator, communication trainer and education director of The Hollies Centre for Practical Sustainability. Course bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 023 8847001.