This is being written on Dec. 23rd which means we are all in “the season of giving.” And, while we all do love to give and receive presents, I wonder if we may be missing an opportunity to give something that is even more impactful? The gifts I’m speaking of are our best self, our time, and our willingness to give voice to how much we love our friends and family members. What I mean by “our best selves” is our wiliness to take responsibility for the qualities and characteristics we bring to the family events that happen around this time of year. As a psychologist and speaker, so many of the stories I hear of the holidays are about the drama created when everyone gets together for the holidays. Whether it’s politics, or old resentments, or simply disagreements, it seems as if many see the this time of year as an opportunity to air their grievances or pick a fight. Further, this holiday drama is often even more problematic because we have such high expectations around this time of year. As kids, we all looked forward to the holidays, and, as adults, this same desire for this to be a magical time of year lives just below the surface. Instead, many are met with arguments, hurt feelings, and simmering resentment that dash our hopes, and has us only looking forward to it being over. There are all sorts of reasons for these problems, not the least of which are unresolved issues and hurt feelings from the past. Then, there are disagreements about how things should be done, and differing beliefs with respect to politics and world events, etc., which often has people saying things to their family that they would never dream of saying to a guest in their home. Of course, all of this starts with us. Which means, while we may not be able to change how our family interacts with each other, we can certainly take more responsibility for who we are as we interact with them. In other words, instead of criticizing some family member for being critical, we can respond to any negative comment with something positive. Eventually, they will either join us in our more loving way of being, or stop coming to us with negative comments because they now know that we won’t feed their negativity. We can choose to tell those we love how much we love them and why. We can hold an image of them at their best and ensure that they feel valued and loved by our words and actions. We can choose to be a way that if our children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews were watching (which they are), we would want them to emulate what they see and hear. Yes, all of this is easier said than done, but if we make it important enough, we can do it. In other words, if someone told us that we would be paid 10 million dollars if we could consistently treat our families with love during this time of the year, I bet we all would sign up for this and have total confidence in our ability to pull this off. Why? Because we have made it important enough! And, who knows, if we are able to do this consistently, others may join us. Because, you see, deep down inside, we all want what we dreamed of as children during this time of year… a magical experience of love, laughter, and gifts. Therefore, this year, I suggest that we all take the 10 million dollar challenge and give our family the gift of interacting with them in a way that demonstrates the best of who we are and acknowledges the best of who they are. In doing so, we give a gift worth more than 10 million dollars… we give the gift of love.
The Best Gift of All
~ All the best, Dr. Bill