The most wonderful time of the year-ish?
By Terez Hartmann
Happy Holidays—or simply, “Happy Today,” depending upon when this article finds you. ‘Tis the season for lights, activity, preparation, and (dun-dun-dun) family gatherings…
For some, this is a period of over-the-top joy, fun and happily singing along with the song “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” Yet, for many the holidays can often stir up quite a few funky marshmallows in the hot chocolate that is family life…
Because you are (typically) born into your family tribe, which then further expands via marriage, children, etc., many of these relationships have the longest-running momentum of all—that’s why you can stand tall and stick to your guns with everyone else, but when it comes to your parents/kids/(insert-mega-important family person here), you are mystified as you watch yourself turn into a ball of mush, easily falling right into your old expected roles or behaviors—even when this takes you far, far away from your well-being, joy and the new and upgraded version of the YOU who you have become.
When family matters SO much, what’s a loving human—who also wants to live a healthy, happy, authentic life—to do? It was from this very place and state of mush-ness that a powerful question and desire was born in me:
Just like I had decided that I wanted to experience BOTH a powerful sense of freedom AND connection with my beloved (which after 23-plus years of being with my “Brave Sir John” is truly how we roll), perhaps I could ALSO create and allow this with the other people I love? Perhaps there IS a way to shift the momentum of the past and create something new with the people who matter most?
Though this answer came in the form of an entire course and coaching program*—which I can’t possibly begin to cover in this short span of space—I CAN, however, offer a few of the biggest game-changers that helped to shift MY perspective about what could be possible.
So if you are open and willing to consider a few new ideas, perhaps you, too, can start a lovely little family evolution-revolution, just in time for the holidays.
Know the difference between LOVE and attachment.
Though I share a huge amount about this in my courses, here’s the easiest way to break this down:
- Attachment is based around fear of loss and the need to control.
- LOVE is based around wanting freedom for all and encouraging another to THRIVE: No. Matter. What.
- Attachment feels heavy, is filled with internal conflict, and everything is conditional; there are always behaviors that are “required” in order to stay in another’s (or your) good graces.
- LOVE feels light, clear, peaceful and joyful. It is unconditional, and there are no “requirements” or “required” behaviors.
- When you operate from a place of attachment, you do whatever it takes to avoid losing the person/relationship because you don’t want to lose the feeling you think only they can give you.
- When you operate from a place of LOVE, you act naturally and encourage the ones you love to do the same.
As you can see, attachment is about controlling to avoid or “protect against,” whereas LOVE is simply about BEING—and anyone who has studied Law of Attraction knows that pushing against (a.k.a. resisting the flow of life), simply activates the very thing you want to protect against!
Acting from or reacting to attachment creates more of the same. (bummer!)
Acting from or responding with LOVE changes the game!
Unfortunately, when it comes to family dynamics, the great majority of these relationships tend to be based more on attachment than LOVE. BUT…
When you know the difference and can see that you or your tribe are asking the other to jump through hoops, throw your life out of balance, or to “not be selfish” and do this thing for ME (note the irony here, folks), please take a beat and think twice before answering the call of attachment. It does indeed take some mental muscle and keen awareness, but when you make LOVE your compass and your aim, you set a new point of attraction into motion, and EVERYONE ultimately wins.
Before acting, asking, or responding to another, breathe and identify whether or not your next action is coming from attachment or LOVE. Choose your next action (or inaction) wisely and consciously.
Communication and Courage Can Change EVERYTHING.
Even though you may share the same DNA or have decades of memories invested with your famiglia, it can be all-too-easy to assume that your family members’ core values match yours exactly, that they see life the same way you do, and that they process emotions and experiences the same way. And let’s face it—when YOU think and feel a certain way about life that is as absolute for you as breathing, it’s difficult to imagine that anyone—especially your own flesh-and-blood—could possibly think or operate differently. Think again!
A few weeks ago, I revisited a series of questions from my relationship course for singles* that explores what I call “The YOU-niversity”—which I expanded further for my 2nd course* regarding families, friends, couples and career-related relationships. When I delved into my current answers to these questions and further discovered more about myself and a few willing loved ones, many of the things I thought I knew were quite a contrast to the reality of the moment!
Though different family members were willing to go further into the questionnaires than others, even starting this process opened John and I up to conversations with our family that really helped to clear the air and bridge the gap for some invaluable and much-needed clarity.
Having a deeper understanding of each others’ core values, what truly matters to each of us, what is needed for each to truly feel safe, well and loved, and what ACTUALLY brings joy, was eye-opening and helpful for ALL—and it’s far easier to have healthy, two-way conversations and be a great partner, parent, child, friend, etc. if you actually know who YOU are and what matters to YOU!
Even if I had never shared these lists with another living soul, I also inadvertently gave myself a powerful gift—the gift of feeling heard and understood by ME. And, my friends, when you can provide that service for yourself and no longer “need” this from others, it can be the ultimate relationship game-changer!
By the way: I’ve also started exchanging these lists with some of my closest friends and really love how it’s deepened these relationships too!
Open a dialogue: Let the people you love know that what matters to them also matters to you, and ask them about their favorite things, their core values, what is needed for them to feel safe, well and loved, along with anything else that is inspired. Remember that you honor the ones you love the most by first getting to know thy SELF.
Change the Pattern
If you’ve had more than your fair share of “less-than” family interactions, one of the easiest ways to create a new groove is to change your tune.
If you KNOW that you can easily get triggered by one of your tribe members, the last thing you need is to show up at the same time, in the same surroundings, wearing the same outfit, eating the same food, doing the same things. Instead, shake things up by:
- Suggesting a different venue.
- Choosing a different activity.
- Meeting at a different time of day or frequency of getting together (instead of weekly get-togethers, space them out to every 10 days/etc.).
- Ordering different food/drinks.
- Wearing different clothes/perfume/cologne.
It may not be the end-all-be-all resolution, but you are far more likely to experience a shift when YOU shift the experience.
Another way to change the pattern? Bring the clearest, most aligned version of YOU to the family reunion:
- Set an intention for how you want to feel and flow BEFORE leaving your home or engaging with others.
- Put on happy, uplifting, confidence-boosting music BEFORE you arrive.
- Think about what you DO and CAN appreciate and enjoy about the person/group of people you’re about to meet.
- Listen to your inner compass (gut) to know if it’s best to go forward or give it a hard pass.
- Remember that “showing up” in a crappy state of mind (and putting out the vibe that you truly do NOT want to be there) benefits no one. You deprive them of the gift of your true presence and throw even more logs on the fire of the old, icky momentum you were SO looking to change! And if others demand your presence even when you’ve said, “So sorry, not today,” this is attachment in action!
An important note: If a relationship has become abusive or toxic, please consider removing yourself from that environment as soon as physically possible. There are times when it is truly best for all involved to love from afar.
Create a NEW Family Paradigm
When it comes to family-related interactions, more often than not, humans just simply act and react to the existing paradigm that is in place, and when this IS conducive to a happy, healthy interaction for ALL, this can be a lovely thing, indeed. But if the reality of your family dynamic looks VERY different from the festive smiling holiday photos of the kids/parents/dog/cat all in matching outfits, and more like a battle scene from Lord of the Rings, perhaps it’s time to consider changing the paradigm.
As I explored the “YOU-niversity” list regarding family roles and flow here’s the new paradigm I discovered for myself:
An individual or group who are able to love unconditionally, accept you as you are, cheer you on, offer a shoulder when you need it, support what matters to you, and allow each person to live and operate within their natural rhythm and flow.
Healthy families should behave/flow/interact like this:
- All of the above plus celebrate holidays and milestones together whenever possible and honor traditions that are constructive and catalysts for joy.
- Interactions feel relaxed, easy and natural for all.
- We communicate openly and honestly with each other and sort out disagreements STAT.
- No one asks the other to compromise themselves or what truly matters to them. No one asks or wants the other to suffer on their behalf, or throw their health, finances, or life out of balance to serve them.
- When something “out of character” happens, they give the other the benefit of the doubt (rather than assuming the worst from that person) and are willing to look at the big picture.
- All deserve love and respect and have every right to step away if respectful, two-way communication is not possible at the moment.
- True family “sees” you and allows for the growth, expansion and evolution of ALL.
- True family feels like “home.”
What do YOU want to experience with your family? Create your NEW Family paradigm and encourage any willing family members to do the same. Open a dialogue and build bridges by identifying which values you DO share in common and what either party would be willing to include/add-on that would still fully honor both of your core values and keep each of you in a state of healthy balance and living authentically.
The Bottom Line: HEALTHY Family Matters
Imagine a world where humans truly love, support and encourage each other to live fully and authentically? If there is ANY way of setting the wheels of change in motion, perhaps the best place to start is in your own backyard?
This holiday season—and in every season—I’d like to encourage you to give yourself and the ones who matter to you the gift of actual, true LOVE. It may take time, patience, practice and courage, but starting a new conversation can and will build a bridge to harmony, understanding, peace, and a deeper connection for the benefit of ALL.
“Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me**…”
…and YOUR beautiful, HEALTHY family.
**from the song,” Let There Be Peace on Earth”
~by Jill Jackson-Miller and Sy Miller, 1955
Author’s note: *By the way, if you love the idea of attracting & allowing healthy relationships of ALL types for yourself or helping others move forward with the relationships that matter to them, check out these courses:
Terez “Firewoman” Hartmann is a Visionary Creative & top-rated instructor, Law of Attraction & Allowing YOUR Success specialist, published author, speaker, singer-songwriter, recording & performing artist & composer, “Catalyst for Fab-YOU-lous” and true Renaissance Woman who has already helped over 10,000 students in over 130 countries allow success and live life on FIRE. She is deeply passionate about helping other Powerful Creatives and Leading-Edge Thinkers live unique, empowered lives on their terms by cultivating the courage to dream, to express themselves boldly & authentically, and to focus Onward, Upward and Forward into new possibilities. http://www.terezfirewoman.com