By Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller
Do you want to create a happy, stress-free holiday season? If so, watch your language. You could be creating stress, disappointment, annoyance, frustration, and irritation this holiday season by the way you choose to speak. Following are six verbalizations you could eliminate to create less stress for you and your family this year.
1.) Stop shoulding on yourself.
"I should invite my brother-in-law for dinner."
"I should buy a different roast."
"I ought to have a bigger tree."
"Should" is used to dispense guilt. It's a way of shaming and getting after yourself so you will feel inadequate. It creates anxiety and stress.
Want to reduce your stress? Change "should" to "could." Your words then become, "I could invite my brother-in-law for dinner." Make a decision with no shame attached and take action. Once a decision is made, fear and anxiety diminish greatly.
2.) Rid your language patterns of "what if" illusions.
"What if the recipe doesn't turn out right?"
"What if I get stuck with all the cleanup?"
"What if they show up late?"
"What if" keeps you from enjoying your present moments. It plants negative pictures in your mind that focus your energy and attention on an imagined future, one that may never occur.
When you catch yourself saying "what if" to yourself or aloud, be advised that you could well be living an illusion. Use it as a cue to return to present-moment living. Lessen its influence by quickly stating its opposite. Change "What if the recipe doesn't turn out right?" to "What if the recipe turns out perfectly?" Since neither has happened yet, let them go. Either way, you can handle it.
3.) Refuse to make negative predictions.
"It's going to be a long, boring trip."
"She'll ruin it if she brings her boyfriend."
"We'll be sorry we went."
Why would you want to believe it's going to be a long, boring trip? If you talk that way, you think that way. If you think that way, you believe that way. If you believe that way, you will notice everything that proves your belief to yourself. Result? Sure enough, it turned out that way.
You can change your mind and your forecast by changing your words. "Maybe we’ll be happy we went" leaves you free from limiting words. It leaves you with more positive expectations.
4.) Being right doesn't work.
"I warned her and she didn't listen."
"I told you you'd get sick eating all that chocolate."
"See. We ran out of money just like I said we would."
Having to be right breeds comparison, evaluation, and alienation. It also produces mental and physical distancing. Being right will not help you enjoy this holiday season. It will not improve your relationship with your spouse or children. It will not help you relax. It will not serve you by building peace and harmony. It will allow you to produce dis-ease as your thoughts continue to churn out proof of your rightness.
5.) Refuse to play the blame game.
"It's the post office's fault it didn't get there."
"It's your fault we ran out of wrapping paper."
"I blame Maggie for teasing him. She started it."
When you blame, you give away your personal power. It prevents you from examining any role you played in a given situation. It keeps responsibility on the backs of others and frees you to judge and activate separating emotions of anger, annoyance, and disgust. That doesn't exactly create holiday harmony in your family.
What are you stewing about right now? Who are you blaming? Do you have a relative you think is at fault? Own it by examining how you helped create the situation. Take responsibility for the role you played in leading up to it. No blame, no fault, and no guilt. Just take some of the responsibility and watch the stress float away.
6.) Eliminate the Holiday/Christmas feud.
"Got another card that said 'Happy Holidays.' That makes four."
"What's wrong with these people who can't say Christmas? Enough of this Happy Holidays stuff."
People who say "Happy Holidays" aren't talking exclusively about Christmas. They mean the holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year's. They are wishing you a happy holiday season from the end of November to the first of January. They are not denigrating your Christian beliefs. They may even share them.
Stop choosing to be annoyed by how someone else describes the holiday season. Refrain from taking it personally. They do not intend it that way. You are the one who is creating your own annoyance by how you choose to interpret their description. Invest some time managing your own reactions rather than the language others use to wish you well.
Our wish for you this holiday season is that you use the material above to create Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas.
Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of The Abracadabra Effect: The 13 Verbally Transmitted Diseases and How to Cure Them. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their websites today: www.thomashaller.com or www.chickmoorman.com.