Reflecting and Acknowledging over the Holidays
Has Covid-19 ever given us pause during this holiday season....and here we are. While many of us may have less exposure to family and friends this holiday season, I still wanted to write about how to reflect and acknowledge others' words, feelings, energy, etc. so that we don't take it on (so to speak).
Don't Take it On!
I notice people doing this frequently- and I'm not excluded from this either - taking on others' issues. Especially when it is family, the other person's "stuff" can weigh on us. Even over the telephone or via Facetime or Zoom, we can do this. What taking on another's energy/issues/ problems can look like is:
- taking an irritated sigh or tapping hands and feet with impatience
- telling the person what you think they should do (trying to fix it)
- getting upset or angry at the other person
These and other ways are how we take on another's "stuff." When we do this, the holidays can become tiring, painful, annoying, and difficult to get through. Are you ready to try something different in order to feel more in control, more content, and less affected? It can take practice, and it is excellent armour to develop and strengthen for even the toughest of adversaries.
Reflect Other's Words Back to Them.
Is your aunt belittling you about something? Reflect her words back to her. Here's an example:
Auntie- "I really wish that your mother had put you in piano lessons like we did with our Nancy. She's so accomplished now."
You-"You really wish that mom had put in piano, as I might be accomplished now like Nancy."
Is your sister commenting on the gift card she received?
Sister-"Thanks for your gift card. You know, I really put a lot of thought into your gift, and wrapped and sent it. I didn't want Covid to compromise my gift giving."
You-"You appreciated the gift card. You put a lot of thought into your gifts and you didn't let Covid compromise your gift giving this year."
Are you getting the idea with reflecting? Reflecting puts the words back on the person and, thus, they are not dropped on you. Also, we are less likely to be hurt or weighed down by the words. It's my favourite counsellor tool turned family-holiday practice!
Acknowledging Feelings and Perspectives.
Acknowledging is slightly different from reflecting. This is used usually when feelings or perspectives are been shared and they are touchy or have weight to them. Don't try to problem solve or fix- it's better to acknowledge. Here's an example:
Grandmother- "I feel so lonely. I didn't see anyone on my birthday, and now Christmas is going to be spent with just your mother."
You - "You're lonely. Your birthday and Christmas will be lonely."
Instead of trying to "fix" nana, because that is a form of taking it on, you are simply hearing and acknowledging the main point of her comment. She will feel heard, and you won't feel like you need to do anything necessarily.
Dad-"You know, I'm really angry that you didn't come out for the holidays. You said that this year you would, and I really don't Covid is a big deal."
You-"You're angry. You wanted to see me. And not seeing me brings up anger."
Again, acknowledging and reflecting are very alike, yet I tend to acknowledge when a big feeling or perspective is shared. BOTH of these techniques will help you to avoid "taking it on" this holiday season. These two tools are my armour, my battle gear for some stressful holiday moments. Try it!
I hope this was helpful. Happy holidays to all. I am around over the break if you'd like to book a counselling session or initial consult. All the best!