You are down. You feel off. You’ve got negative or disempowering conversations swirling around inside your head. It’s not an entirely unfamiliar state, but generally you enjoy people’s company and like socializing. Except now it’s the holiday season and you’ve got social occasions to attend! You may not know what has put you in this mood, but right now it’s darn inconvenient, and it seems to be getting worse.
Holiday expectations can be overwhelming.
We wrap up a year of business, attend multiple celebrations, put a lot of work and planning into event preparations, and make holiday plans. Stress and depressive feelings are frequent uninvited visitors over the holiday season. So what do you do when you have tons of social occasions to attend but you are feeling moody or disconnected?
These complexities brought by the season place demands on our psyches, which drives us to withdraw. Obviously this makes it difficult for us to really go out and socialize, spend time in conversations, and appreciate the events that go on during the holiday season. We could feel the sense of disconnection but also, the strong desire to simply get away.
You can prevent stress from getting in the way of your relationships and connections with others with the help of some useful advice. In the end, you might find that you enjoy the holidays despite your fluctuating moods.
One lens to look through if you are having sabotaging thoughts is that provided by Positive Intelligence (PQ). If we look from this frame, derived from a combination of neuroscience and cognitive behavioral psychology, is that you may be getting triggered by thoughts of your Judge, Victim Saboteur or your Avoider Saboteur. Predictable, reactivating thoughts happen in certain situations and produce negative thoughts and emotions. They can be shifted by activating your Sage, your inner knowing, and lead to much more positive behaviors and solutions in the face of the reactivation you are experiencing.
If you are wrestling with the urge to opt out (avoid), or you are feeling sorry for yourself (victim) but don’t want to cave into your feelings, there is an alternative course which may give you an alternative and leave you feeling proud rather than sheepishly letting your emotions get the best of you. You can take these
3 Steps to Getting Connected:
1. Come out of yourself and your own problems.
While your mind really wants to distract you with your own little pity party right now, you can create an interruption. Challenge yourself to put a stop to dwelling on your own issues, feelings, problems – which requires exercising your ‘self command’ muscle – and for the next few hours look outside yourself. When you spend too much time thinking about your own problems, that causes rumination, which can then create uncertainty, and a propensity to exaggerate a problem or issue. The ticket to connecting with others is to be outwardly focussed, not inside your own head. It might be hard at first, but can quickly provide relief, given you aren’t having much fun being preoccupied with the noise in your head anyway!
2. Listen, listen, listen… to others.
If you aren’t feeling very conversational, don’t try to manufacture something to say just to make conversation, be polite or to be clever. Consider that your mood isn’t the best starting point at the moment anyway, so fire up your active listening skills and use them authentically. Create a context or give yourself the experiment to find something more interesting to pay attention to, right now or in the moment of your distress.
A good way to activate your Sage when you are faced with over-analysing or in a negative reaction based on a situation or interaction is to spend a few minutes breathing. When you do this, you activate a different part of your brain, giving yourself the opportunity to tap into something deeper – to follow a wiser, more grounded, creative and intuitive place. You can instead come from your commitments to connection. The quality of the listening you provide will be directly correlated to the quality of the conversations that will emerge.
3. Get interested in real discovery.
To discover what’s interesting about what’s coming out of the mouths of those around you, you will tap into the Sage power of Explore – one where you get deeply interested in what’s going on and why in a situation or with another. From Sage you can generate real interest instead of being owned by your reactions.. While that might seem hard, it isn’t actually harder than listening to the tapes playing in your head — it’s simply a mental muscle to practice.
If you think about it, you can probably remember a time when someone was so genuinely interested in what you were saying, you found yourself with pearls dripping off your tongue, amazing yourself even at what you were thinking or recounting, maybe even the insights that arrow. You may not have recognised yourself as the wise, clever, amazing conversationalist you were being, but this is the you that comes from an inner knowing. Consider that you were responding because you genuine listening, which speaks to a deeper self.. Now, you can play that role for another — and it’s a self perpetuating circle of engagement!
You can prevent the tendency towards automatic reactions, which are a source of anxiety, during challenging times over the holiday season by making an effort to work on your mental fitness. Recognising situations as triggers only, focussing outside yourself, and practicing deep listening and discovery will shift many negative thinking patterns and kickstart more positive experiences.
With these simple awareness and communication tools, you can discover connection and with it more happiness, joy and calm during the holidays, as you navigate the many events and plans you have.