It depends on how you feel about the holidays, right?
There is an unwritten expectation that preparing for and celebrating the holidays will bring us happiness. But, for most of us, it brings both good and bad feelings and for many, the feelings are not so good at all.
What if we had some influence over our experience of all of this?
It is not that we believe it because we see it. Rather, it is that we see and experience it because we believe it!
How do we make our feelings happen?
First of all it is important to remember that no event, thing or person can make us feel anything. We do it. Feelings always follow thought. That is, what we are feeling always follows what we just thought. I know it seems more like our feelings
follow directly after: what George just said, “No, we can’t afford that,” or after watching your daughter sing a solo well in the holiday pageant, or after you wake up and realize both your kids are many hours later than promised, getting home from their ski trip. But, actually there is something that happens between the event and our resulting feelings.
What’s in between is WHAT WE THINK IT MEANS! Experiencing an event generates our thoughts about what it means about us, about life, about what always happens, what never happens, what we’re afraid will happen, what we can be. do, or have, what we can’t be, do or have and more. Our feelings are a direct response from our Core Essence about what we just thought.
Please use this information to empower yourself, not as another reason to mentally beat yourself up.
If our thoughts are in alignment with what is universal truth, what is supportive of our positive growth and progress, and supportive of moving in the direction of what we have thought, said, and written down that we want out of life, those emotions will feel good. If our thoughts are NOT the truth, not supportive, not logical, or not healthy, then the emotions generated will feel uncomfortable or bad.
Uncomfortable or negative feelings are useful in showing us those unsupportive beliefs which drive and derail our lives. However, that’s a topic for another time. It is enough for now to just honor those emotions and accept their messages for later work. (Changing unsupportive or untrue belief structures is something that can be worked on with Alice, in integrative therapy sessions.)
The point I’d like to make here is that you do have some influence over the emotions you feel during any holiday season. If you use your uncomfortable emotions as an alert system to tell you when you are thinking thoughts that are NOT SUPPORTIVE of what you’d like this holiday season to be like, then you can shift those thoughts to something that is more supportive.
If you think it will drive you nuts to try and get a handle on all the thoughts you think every day, just to ensure they are supportive, you are right. We all think from 600 to 1300 words a minute, even more as we think in pictures or blocks of thought. So, how do we get control over all of that?
How do we control what we think?
We don’t control it. Thoughts arrive in our head spontaneously from all directions in response to uncountable and uncontrollable stimuli. However, we can choose the subject and we can choose HOW we will think about that subject. Say we are shopping and seeing several gifts we’d like to give our family for the holidays; but they’d really bust the budget. The thoughts that follow may look something like this. “The kids would be so happy. Oh, but we can’t afford it. no matter what I do, I just can’t make enough money to do what I’d like. I must be a failure. I hate the holidays! I hate shopping. I hate me!” As you can imagine, the feelings that follow that would be anger, depression, worthlessness, despair et al. If instead, we use the negative emotion to alert us to the fact that what we are thinking does not serve us, then we could choose to think differently. “I love my family enough to make the best financial choice here, so we all don’t suffer later. I am doing the best I can right now, financially, and am striving for that promotion (or will make a better holiday savings plan next year.) Then we ask ourselves, what choice will actually contribute to our own peace, love, and joy right now as well as later? The feelings that follow might be ones of confidence, love, competence, and satisfaction regarding the progress of our current financial plan in harmony with our desires for the holiday.
How do you make the shift?
Ask yourself questions. The mind will answer the question you ask of it. If you ask, “WHY, am I always broke?” It will turn up the sixteen reasons why you are always broke. If you ask, “WHAT’s the best choice here, given current financial and family needs.” The mind will answer that. If you ask, “HOW can I generate additional funds?” The mind gets creative and offers up suggestions. In my experience, questions starting with How, what, what if, who, where, and when are highly useful in moving you out of “beat yourself up” mode and into “solution” mode. When you are thinking thoughts to positively solve something, your emotions will feel comfortable, so long as you stay in that mode. WHY questions are useful if asked carefully with the intention to pick apart a mystery or puzzle. Often, though we use the WHY question to beat ourselves up, “WHY am I so stupid, fat, broke, et al? Tossing negative labels at ourselves really has no redeeming value whatsoever. To feel better move your thoughts into solution mode.
If it seems impossible to stay in a solution mode when thinking about a difficult subject–the how we think about the subject part; then I recommend changing the subject entirely–the choose the subject part. Think about something, anything else that will allow you to feel comfortable emotions. After awhile you’ll be ready to think about that troublesome subject using solution mode questions and actually begin to see light. I agree with Einstein, when he said, ” We can’t solve a problem with the same thinking we used when we created it.” You have to begin by at least believing that a solution exists and intend to find it, before effective solutions can come to you. So, this holiday season resolve to use better questions to shift yourself out of any of those feeling bad spaces into thoughts that allow you to enjoy what is, right here, right now.
by Alice Buehring Integrative Therapist
Start early to shift your belief structure to something that supports a healthy, happy, holiday season, call Alice now for an appointment that will change your life! 360 793 4930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.