Holiday Triage

Hi, it's Sylvia!

DECEMBER. The Holidays. There's so much pressure to make "The Season" bright, that so many of us feel that the normalcy and relief of January can't come soon enough. As we all know, humans are flawed and complex, so it makes perfect sense that any relationship involving a couple humans (or a whole group!) will inevitably present its share of challenges on any normal day. But, get a few humans together around Christmas, throw in some spiked egg nog, and add some great expectations for good measure, and before you know it, you have the perfect recipe for a holiday disaster. 

Let's jump into this week's question:

Q.  Holidays at my house are a CODE RED emergency! I love my family and I want to fix things fast, but I don't know where to start. Help!

A. Totally feel you! Aside from my always relevant tip to focus on what you want and not on what you don't want, the holidays demand tangible steps and immediate results. Since we can't change or control anybody else, our only option is to focus on what wecan do on our own, in order to change the current situation. Here are my top three absolute favorite, most effective resources for relationship repair and personal development that are sure to alleviate some holiday blues:

  1. Ho'oponopono - I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you. This simple collection of phrases is part of a traditional Hawaiian practice of forgiveness, and it has the power to repair any ruptured dynamic. The practice is extremely practical and packs quite a punch, both as a real template for healing relationship communication, and as a mantra for meditation. Here's an excellent article from Psychology Today that goes more into detail about it, but the main take-away on this one is a mindset of personal responsibility and an emphasis on open-hearted communication. The situation might not be your fault, but there isalways responsibility on both sides of the street. Choosing to focus on your own side will get any relationship back on track much faster than the blame game, even if it's just a teeny passive-aggressive dig in the context of a positive communication.
  2. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz - Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Always do your best. This book has been aNew York Times bestseller for well over a decade, and while the agreements themselves are simple enough to start applying immediately, of the book goes more in depth about the ideas behind it, if you're interested in diving deeper into your own habits and examining your own outlook on life. How we see things informs every thought, opinion, action and decision, so it makes sense to make sure our perceptions and operating system are on point first!
  3. The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman - Another NYT bestseller, this book breaks down the most effective ways to communicate love, including Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch, and describes how we all connect with some more than others. Knowing our own Love Language will give us the clarity to ask for what we need, and also begin to understand how to better communicate with our partner who might not be understanding the signals we've been sending.  The website includes a free quiz that can help you identify your own personal preferences, and it will help you start to understand how to avoid getting lost in translation in your relationships. And, for any parents out there, there is also a Love Languages book dedicated to understanding and navigating our relationship with our kids! 

(Note: These two books have a permanent spot on my nightstand, and they're even great for a tune-up whenever I need it. In fact, if I had a Holiday Gift Guide, both of those books would be on it.)


I hope you find these 3 tips helpful and timely as we get into the swing of the holidays! I'd love to know what you think, so be sure to shoot me a message and let me know which of these you're trying out and how they're working for you.

Is there anything in this answer that sparked another question? What else would you like to learn about? Email me with more of your questions, and they might be featured in an upcoming newsletter!

Sylvia Hendershott