There is an unexpected surprise that comes from having maintained self care habits that profoundly shapes the whole of our life for the better and comes in handy this holiday season.
While all these years I was busy making sure to keep up my routine of meditating, exercising drinking enough water etc. for the sake of being healthier, there was a much more powerful gift quietly unraveling in the recesses of my heart.
Two Sides of The Same Coin
This …..gift, is double sided. One side is pleasurable and filled with richness, clarity, discovered talents, a growing lightness of being and fulfillment. The other side is that of muscle, risk, bravery and faith.
Once this …gift had a good footing in my life and had been taking root for some time, it grew strong enough to have a life of it’s own, which is where the challenging part comes.
It’s quiet yet assertive presence has directed my life in ways I could have never imagined. It’s almost as if it says “Ahhhh you like the gifts that have come from having had my presence grow in you? to keep those and uncover more, you must listen to my persistent call”.
Value That Money Can’t Buy
What is this precious gift/ challenge you ask? A clear conscience.
The many acts of self care naturally resulted in the voice of my conscience getting clearer and stronger.
We all have a conscience of course, you may have been born with yours blaring loud and kept it largely intact for much of your life. Kudos for you and thank you for blessing this planet, the more conscience led people there are, the better we all are for it! My journey though, has been in re- discovering it from essentially having disowned it in my childhood, one self care choice at a time.
The Gift That Keeps On Giving
One of the grandest gifts of living guided from our conscience, is the steady growth of a more loving perspective with which to see all parts of ourselves; the obvious, what’s just under the surface, along with those parts hidden way deep inside. Even the parts of us we have seen as ugly, gradually morph into beauty under the forgiving gaze of this loving perspective.
It’s beautiful, illuminating and as real as the keys under my fingers as I type these words.
Being Loved Enough To Badger Us Until We Do Right
There is also a price to this bounty, the more gifts…the more responsibility. The clearer the conscience, the more it it will bite down on us with a badgers grip when faced with needing to make a choice in complex situations where it’s not as black and white as choosing between a doughnut and a salad.
In the complex subjects of my life, my conscience many times to my dread, has me know that the best choice is the tough and inconvenient one. The one that will result in obvious, uncomfortable even painful consequences before the good part comes. Consequences that ask me to take a risk into the unknown, where things are not clearly laid out and logical.
An Abundance Of Opportunities To Do Right In The Areas That Matter Most
Why do I speak of this right now? Because we are at the season of holiday gatherings and with that comes for many people, myself included, opportunities that drudge up unresolved, sticky and tender interpersonal ….“stuff” and that’s exactly where our conscience calls us to make these same kind of brave choices. I dare say, that’s where they have the most clout.
You know what I’m talking about.
Beyond the holiday decorations, massive amounts of sweets, the lights and shopping can lie the dark underbelly of a painful and unresolved issue that can be cantankerously sensitive to the touch when casually commented upon.
Unresolved Holiday Dread
Are you dreading to see a particular someone at an upcoming holiday gathering because of exactly this?
Perhaps you have pent up frustration towards someone you are tempted to confront and aren’t sure you’ll be able to hold back the reigns for the sake of letting those around you have a nice holiday gathering.
The Web Of Social Connection
Unfortunately our ruffles with a certain someone can tug on the connections everyone else has with that person and the tension that your dynamic brings when you’re both under the same roof, is communally and undeniably palpable .
At the heart of most, if not all disagreements between people who share a history, is a conflict between values and the longer the history, the more necessary brave, deliberate and gentle the discussions need to be to untangle and resolve those conflicts.
When They Go Low, We Go High
I’m inviting you to view the dread of seeing your shudder-inducing someone, as an opportunity to flex your resilience muscles and listen to your own conscience regarding what taking the high road means in your situation.
The way I see it, the self care journey at it’s core, prepares us to face adversity with the resilience and self awareness that all those meditation sessions, long jogs, journal entries, quiet coffee mornings and diligently prepared green smoothies have afforded us.
Soften The Rough Edges To Prepare The Ground For Future Resolution
I’m not suggesting to use a holiday gathering as a time to address situations that realistically require many attempts to build a bridge. I am suggesting to use it as an opportunity to oil the wheels and fan the flames of brotherhood, reciprocity and future successful communication with a gesture of truce.
I encourage you to see that your scheduled holiday gathering can be an opportunity to soften the rough spots in the dynamic so there’s more of a possibility to gently enter difficult but necessary conversations, on better terms in the future .
Remind Your Resistance
Does your chest and neck get hot in just thinking about them? Do your fists clench and your stomach tighten just in entertaining the thought of seeing them?
If you have read this far then you’re most likely someone that is dedicated to living more intentionally so remember, that includes the difficult relationships in our lives.
Living with more purpose means being proactive in making choices that steer your life in the direction you want it to go and does anyone want a life with inflamed relationships and unresolved business?
Of course not.
There are some of you that may not be ready yet to offer even a small gesture of truce and to you I say, fair enough, when you are ready, you will have a resource to return to in this post. For those of you that are ready, I offer the following:
Befriend and Care For Your Limits
Take out a sheet of paper and pen or download the worksheet I made for this very exercise down below. Before thinking about what you’re brave gesture of truce can look like, it’s important to first get clear on your boundaries and reflect on what has showed up as a pattern in previous times of you both weathering each other’s presence. Do you both maintain a cold distance, interact passive aggressively with sarcasm that rips at each other or even had full out arguments? Write it down.
Be Achingly Honest
Considering the possibilities of what’s most likely to happen, recognize and write down what in your dynamic with them, triggers you. Next be honest and identify where the wiggle room is in your stiff defense. Get clear on where you’re able to negotiate, bend and soften up and where you’re absolutely not, write it down. Once you have some clarity on where you stand you can begin to think of what kinds of acts would call a truce.
Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone
What gesture could you offer that says “This is difficult and I don’t have answers but respectfully coexisting is important to me, I’m not sure how to go about it, but for now please accept this as a white flag.”
Only you know depending on the temperament of the person you’re focusing on, what they could receive as a gesture of truce. Stretch yourself and put yourself in their shoes.
If Need Be Write a Rant Before You Brainstorm Ideas For a Truce
If you need help getting ideas dedicate a page to journal ideas only on this and avoid the temptation of jumping into all the reasons this person irritates you and using it as a catharsis. Of course that has it’s own very beneficial purposes and by all means if you need to do that BEFORE you walk in the direction of thinking of ways to call a truce, then do it.
For the purposes of this exercise, use the page to only spend time thinking about and giving space in your brain and heart for a new way of doing things in this repetitively difficult situation. Name at least 5 even if they sound silly.
Here are two worksheets I made for your convenience!
A good start to a truce is to in some way make an admission of things you know you have to work on. You don’t need to directly talk about the issue/issues that divide you, but instead talk about what you’re working on to help bring you closer to actually addressing the issue/issues that are between you two. Remember listen to your conscience, be honest and it will be very clear.
Also before you carry out your truce act, get a second opinion fro someone you trust that knows both of you and can give you accurate feedback about the probability of your act being received.
Respecting your limits and taking care of you
Schedule for yourself a self care activity that you absolutely look forward to, after the gathering, as a reward for yourself for taking the brave step of opening up to be vulnerable and cordial with a person you don’t trust.
A Treat To Reward You And Help You Recover In the Aftermath
Whether they accept your invitation for a truce or not, you have something to look forward to that can work as a motivator to continue the high road for the remainder of the evening in case they reject your offer. Fighting off the temptation to join them in the old unhealthy patterns you have shared with them in the past, can make the remaining few hours of your holiday gathering feel like an eternity. Having that scheduled treat for yourself to look forward to can be a motivator to stick with being the better you in the situation.
On the other hand if they receive your offer of truce, that pre-scheduled treat can be an act of celebration in your keeping yourself accountable to your better self in a challenging situation.
Self Care While You’re There
You can also plan in advance self care for yourself during the holiday gathering by trying out ideas I’ve offered in my previous post here on taking care of yourself in difficult social situations and creating a self care kit for social situations here.
Reconsidering True Self Care
If your self care routine is not helping you taking the high road more of the time, then is it possible that it’s serving as a cocooning and hedonistic tool of avoidance in your life? I have experience with that myself and have shared about it’s dangers here.
At the end of the day it’s you that has to live with you.
Are you at peace with yourself because you did your best to be on better terms with someone difficult? What has making a truce looked like for you in difficult situation in the past? Share in the comment box below!
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