How to Stay Conscious and Connected This Holiday Season
1. Be Realistic. Most of our expectations have been ingrained from others’ expectations of us or our own expectations of ourselves. Often when we feel like we aren’t meeting the mark for others or ourselves – we become judgmental. This creates disconnection. Be realistic of what you can and cannot do and offer YOUR best this holiday season! It is good enough!
2. Have an Exit Plan or Strategy. When visiting family or attending family gatherings, we may notice that our old unresolved feelings and childlike behaviours emerge. This often happens in the company of our families of origin. Pay attention to each other in these settings. Help your partner remember – “I am here! You aren’t stuck here. Come on, we can go now if you like…..” They will be grateful you did.
3. Maintain Contact with your partner when in company of others. Sometimes we get caught up in connecting and engaging with others and forget that our partner may not know our family or be as outgoing as we are. Make frequent connections with each other as you socialize in these gatherings. A hand, gentle touch, wink or a hello will go a long way in getting your partner’s attention, offering up a sense of safety and security for both of you. Remember if one feels disconnected, so does the other!
4. Give the Gift of Listening with Your Presence. I have written about this in a past newsletter. Listening with presence is the key to feeling felt, understood and validated. It is what the child in us always wanted and still needs today. Your presence with your partner through a soft eye gaze, touch and voice will strengthen your connection plus settle the heightened anxieties associated with the holiday season.
5. Make repairs OFTEN & QUICKLY. We are never more vulnerable than in our intimate relationships. Therefore, we inevitably step on each other’s toes and rub up against “raw spots”. This can be annoying and irritating and if not repaired quickly can fester and become inflamed. Make repairs often and quickly! Say I am sorry, let’s try that again, I love you, I appreciate you! This will lessen the pain associated with the “raw spots” and get you back on track, avoiding a further leakage of destructive energy.
6. Remove all Negativity from your Relational Space. Negativity includes a gesture, tone, comment or behaviour that is threatening to your partner. The most harmful of these are criticisms. We don’t do well under the attack of criticism, shaming or blaming. These create defenses and losses of connection. So, turn your criticism into requests. Say to your partner – “I would like you to…” (State the positive behaviour that is desired vs. stopping the negative) ie “I would like you to give me a hug vs. I want you to stop leaving”) and tell them why this is important to you. (ie “This helps me relax and feel connected to you”). Your partner will learn that there is an underlying reason to your wish or desire and will have an easier time gifting you with that desired wish.
7. And LASTLY – ATTEND a Couples Weekend in the New Year! A retreat after the holidays. I have found that January is the busiest month for this weekend retreat. Why? Couples recognize what is happening over the holidays – the unresolved hurts and pains are re-activated and resurface. Managing them through the holidays works to a point; however, if left unattended to or not dealt with, they will often show up later. So, make a plan to gift yourselves with a Couples Retreat in January to gain some help in attending to these unresolved hurts, learning tools and skills to understand each other while restoring the empathy and connection between you. If you have been to a Couples Weekend Retreat – attend again. You will always learn something new! And if you are not in a relationship or your partner won’t come to a Couples Weekend, join us at the Individuals Weekend Retreat to foster your desire to know yourself in relationship, learning to become a safe connector!
Take good care of each other and have a wonderful holiday season.