Peaceful Family Gatherings
Whether you love holidays or hate them, holidays bring people together.
But if just thinking about being with relatives or certain friends kicks off your fight/flight/freeze response, you can use these tips to bring peace to any moment: Intentions / Wishes.
A little background:
Intentions and wishes are desires that arise from what you like and love. To me, what you like and love is who you are in terms of your unique expression in the world. It's one of the ways other people remember you and a quick way to create a heart to heart connection.
For example, if you are a chocolate lover and I glowingly say, "You really love chocolate!", it will be hard for you not to smile. The more details I know and honor about what you like and love, the more you will feel understood and the connected with me. And yes. The same thing goes for vanilla lovers like me!
Since intentions and wishes arise from your preferences (like/love), they also express who you really are, and therefore can be additional sources of connection that put you and others in touch with your highest self.
Particularly when people mess up or do something you don't like, whether they are children or adults, point out their intentions instead of criticizing their actions.
In the case of an unintended action it can be as simple as saying, "You didn't mean to do that." If that person is expecting criticism, you will see instant relief and feel the connection, as was the case with the child who accidentally squirted my shirt in the zoo story in my book. If you tend toward perfectionism or are normally critical, one moment like that is all the proof you need to understand the power of acknowledging intentions.
Not only do intentions connect you with others, but they connect others with their higher self (who they really are). Once you are connected and the other person feels grounded instead of defensive, cool-headed problem-solving for how to avoid repeating the accident or what to do next becomes much easier.
When someone complains, point out the wish behind the complaint. This instantly changes the the other person's energy from negative to positive because it puts that person in touch with their higher self.
For example, when your child adamantly says, "I don't like this dinner," you can say, "You wish this dinner were different, and there were something you like. Of course you do!" Then go on to grant the child's wishes in fantasy as I describe in my book.
When the child feels understood and validated, you can state your boundary if needed (and often it isn't): "...And this is what there is. Rats! You don't like any of it. Not one thing. Hmmm. Must be something you can do to get through dinner with us. I can push your plate far away so you don't have to look at it if that helps..."
Wishes and validation often turn the tide and children find at least one thing they can eat because they don't have to defend themselves (their preferences) and can feel like "It's OK to be me!"
Likewise, when an adult relative complains about you and says something like, "You always ruin our get togethers. Why can't you just be happy?", you can say, "You wish everything would go smoothly, and I could be happy."
When you let that sink in, your defensiveness may subside enough for you to realize it's true. If so, then you can go on to say, "You really want me to be happy when we are together. That's actually touching, and I wish that, too. And sometimes, I just don't feel happy. There must be something we can do to enjoy each other's company anyway..."
Intentions and wishes dissipate defensiveness, put people in touch with their higher selves, and can create points of agreement that lead to amicable problem-solving... which makes for much more peaceful family gatherings during the holidays and beyond.
Pointing out intentions and the wish behind the complaint are two of Language of Listening's most powerful relationship building tools. Please let me know what happens when you try them.
And if you'd like personal guidance in using them or our other tools in your unique situation, I hope you will consider giving yourself the gift of private coaching. Simple solutions await.