The season is supposed to be filled with joyous celebration, but it can also become a time of challenges. Why is the meat thermometer stuck at 130°? Why did Aunt Mimi run out of the room? You lost the bottle opener when you went camping? Cousin George will be coming because rehab wouldn’t take him?
It’s not obvious that these stressful situations are also opportunities for us to grow. We usually think of problem solving as changing the other person or situation, whether it’s the IRS, Aunt Mimi or your partner. This is usually difficult, frustrating and often impossible. It may be all their fault, and always feels like it, but 80 to 90 percent of our reality is self-generated, so start there. Instead of seeing them as external problems and trying to deal with them as such, we can learn much and feel good if we use them to look inside.
A lump of clay doesn’t turn into a bowl unless pressure is applied, and likewise, these problems are an opportunity for us to grow. We don’t really have much control over our external reality, but we have everything to say about how we deal with what happens to us. If we take the events that cause distress and use them to take a good look at ourselves, they become information on our path, opportunities to learn and change. What are the fear and avoidance aspects of what we are reacting to negatively. How do we feel? Why?
Stressful situations are opportunities to grow. We can learn much if we use them to look inside Click To TweetLook at what is coming up – fear, grief, anger, disgust. It may be real, it may be authentic, but more than likely it’s a reaction that we don’t need to have. To do this takes self-awareness. It’s difficult. We can work on it by separating the emotion from the response. It’s fine to have emotional reactions; we don’t have much choice about this, and the more aware of them we are, the better. Where we do have a choice is in whether and how we respond. This is how we get to know ourselves and where personal growth takes place.
Sometimes the events are more serious, including death and unexpected illness. These are things which bring difficulty and great sadness. It is important to grieve and share loss with others. Even in these dire situations, there are opportunities – opportunities for growth, for getting to know ourselves better, and most of all for celebrating the joy and beauty that are also here surrounding us all the time.
In these periods, partners and friends can be wonderful sounding boards. If we have created relationships where we can share without being given solutions, be heard without being fixed, and do soul searching out loud, then we can grow closer to ourselves as well as our intimate ones. These support-based relationships can also grow deeper when we share our commonality.
So in this season, let’s celebrate together and share ways to grow towards peace, both inner and outer. Let’s look at the beauty and celebrate joy and each other whenever we can. Let’s not take these things for granted and let’s not forget to play and rejuvenate! We need and rely on each other far more than we are in conflict with each other. Look for that, cultivate those positive emotions, tell everyone, and have a wonderful holiday season.