It’s Christmas afternoon and Uncle Charlie is drunk (like every other holiday) and proceeds to try and make love to the turkey carcass on the dining table in front of the kids and your Catholic in-laws, the ones with the pacemakers. Hey, it’s understandable that the scene might bother you. What’s important to understand, though, is that it wasn’t Uncle Charlie who made you upset—it was you. You did it to yourself. If there is a soul who wouldn’t have gotten upset (me for example, I’d probably have laughed until my sides ached), then it might not be the event that has you upset, but the importance you place upon it. It is all your stuff.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
All unhappiness, anxiety, and apprehension live happily in the space between what is going on in your life and what you think should be happening there. Take a moment to think of anything that is causing you anxiety and/or unhappiness and I can almost guarantee to you it’s because you think it shouldn’t be like that. But the problem is, it’s exactly like that.
Your world at this very moment in time is what it is, and no wishing or wanting it to be different will make a blind bit of difference. What if you choose just to accept it? How would that feel? Acceptance of the present doesn’t mean you’re apathetic or don’t want to change things in the future, just that you choose peace over havoc in this moment.
It’s perfectly ok to intervene with a stern, “No, not again Charlie, for the love of God, please not again like last Christmas” the moment you see your smashed uncle going for his belt buckle. That being said, it’s not easy to choose acceptance; in fact, it can be incredibly hard.
Just this week, I spent almost three hours, two-days in a row on hold with the Federal Student Aid folks for my son. (Now there’s a group to make you consider rebellion as an option.) There were times when I was ready to burn in a flash with exasperation and I had to reign myself in, over and over again, by remembering that the only person my anger was harming was me and the net positive effect I was having on the situation was zero…or maybe a little less.
This time of year can lead to increased stress levels in all of us, but if you can remind yourself if and when yours starts to rise, that everything is really going to be ok, that Uncle Charlie is about to provide you with one fabulous story, and Grandma had some good runs with him anyway, you will start to feel better about things…life…yourself.
Here’s the life coach’s paradox; the more you accept things as you find them and let go of the attempt to control the situation, the more control you have over the really important things in life, such as your own happiness.
Think about it; try it.
Thank you for everything this year, and I wish you and yours a fabulous end of 2016 and a very happy 2017.
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Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.