Turn those uncomfortable moments into opportunities for personal, relationship and family growth
by Gregg DeMammos
The holidays present couples with extraordinary challenges and opportunities for relationship and personal growth. If we look ahead at what we already know will happen, we can challenge ourselves to rise to the occasion better than ever before. Making agreements as a couple will support the two of you being on the same page, which can be vital as all heck breaks loose as it inevitably does during holiday time. We can also use these opportunities outside of the family situation and bring it into the workplace.
Challenge #1 – Leadership and Crisis Management via Holiday Travel
There's no hope! You already know that traveling during the holidays brings out the worst in people (but you, never!). Take advantage of the situation by looking ahead at who you want to be when it hits the fan. Do you want to be calm, able to see to the other side and ready to support each other and your family's needs? Do you want to delegate and defer and finally not take on all the responsibility? If so, you'll want to enroll your partner in reminding you that this is who you said you'll be both before and during the challenge.
You definitely want to come up with a communication plan with your partner. Let him or her know that you need to be spoken to in a certain way for you to hear them and to remind you of what you committed to with a certain phrasing, so it gets through the upset when things go wrong. For example: "I need you to put your hand on my shoulder. Then tell me that I can take a deep breath and relax."
You may need to come up with a nutrition and rest plan or go get a massage the day before or practice deep breathing techniques in order to keep from wanting to destroy ever person lollygagging on an escalator, blocking the baggage carousel or stalling at a green light. Look at how it's gone in the past and discover what's been missing that can help you be the leader you want to be.
If you can perform as a unit, remembering each other's best selves and doing what it takes to be the safe place for each other, you'll see a new version of your partner, ready to rise above challenges and take responsibility in stressful situations, or just take care of themselves better.
At the office? Bring these skills into play when you know the deadline for a project is getting close or when you get a last minute directive from your boss. It will keep everyone on the same page, make sure cool heads prevail and keep the stress levels low. It creates a culture of humility and understanding that there are needs to look after when times get tough.
Challenge #2 – Diplomacy and Relationship building via The In-Laws
Decide on the difference you can make in your relationship with your spouse's parents or in how your parents work together with your spouse. Create a vision of how you want everyone to get along and be clear on who you and your partner need to be to make that happen. This may require a frank and open conversation about the challenges in these relationships in the days leading up to the holidays.
How do you want the turkey carving to go this year? What about when your Uncle starts drinking too much?
Usually, by the time we're married, we know pretty well how these things typically go down. So instead of sitting in discomfort, decide who your family unit will be about it and create change in a meaningful and loving way. Get out ahead of the upsets that normally have you become part of the fray or withdraw. Most of the time, because of who you've chosen to be, the air of change can interrupt normal reflexive events that occur in family get-togethers.
For the office? Use this in a business meeting after the holidays and change the culture of your team!
Challenge #3 – Promoting Positive Change through Intentional Communication or Breaking Up The Gossip Circle
Eventually most families settle into a rundown of what is wrong with everyone who didn't attend the family get together or the people you grew up with in the neighborhood. Now with Facebook, knowing what these people are up to is easier than ever which also increases the dirt. These conversations can of course be harmless, too, but what if we decided to make more out of the rundown?
This year, why not shift the focus from the past (what people did and why it's great to talk about it) to the future (what's possible for the people you know and how can you all help)? Your family is a powerful network. All of you know people who could support these people in your lives. Or you can get together and make one powerful positive gesture for someone's future if you band together.
Creating a shift in tradition can meet opposition, they can be difficult to handle alone. By creating an alliance with your partner and a plan, you can turn the tide more effectively.
In the office? This practice can help you make a difference with office gossip or how someone who is under performing at work is spoken about. Instead of ganging up, or operating without compassion, you can create a culture of support that someday may come in handy for you, too.
These are just some ways we can use the challenges of the holiday season to help us grow individually and as couples and families. Why not get out ahead of these challenges and make them opportunities?
Send me your own ideas in the comments section.
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