I attended a convention last week and had the pleasure of playing the role of spectator instead of speaker. I enjoyed the role reversal. It allowed me to hear things from another perspective — to sit and say, “I know that” and also to say, “I need to do that,” too.
Sometimes we are too close to a situation to realize the impact we’re having. Sometimes we can be too involved, too focused and possibly too self-absorbed to think of others.
Think back to the last time you arrived home and told your family you’d had a bad day. You probably expected them to cut you some slack, and perhaps forgive you for being in a bad mood.
Why do we do that? Why do we behave the worst with the people we love the most? And what does that behaviour teach our children, our partners and ourselves?
Darci (the speaker) suggested to us that when we put our hand on the doorknob to enter our home, we need to take a deep breath — separate from what we left and enjoy what we have at home. Easier said than done.
In my city, Ottawa (Canada), we are a week into a transit strike, with no end in sight. People are short tempered, and taking out their frustrations on everyone, including their families. Everyone is still worried about the economy, the price of oil, and what it all means for us.
It’s no wonder we’re stressed and irritable. But it doesn’t mean we should take it out on our loved ones.
Here are some quick reminders that may help you be the best “you” that you can be.
Before you open the door
- Take a deep breath before you open the door. If necessary, sit in your car or walk around the block until you’re ready to open the door.
- Put a smile on your face. You’ve just walked into a supportive place. Show your family that you’re happy to be with them.
- Be willing to talk about your day. Don’t repress your feelings. In the same vein, don’t vent your frustrations on your family and think that is “communicating” either. Talk “with” your family, not “at” them.
- Be present with your family, in mind and body.
- Focus on what went well today, rather than on what didn’t go well.
- Share something funny that happened to you today, and have everyone else do the same.
- Be aware of information overload. Yes, information is part of the answer, but too much information can cause fear as well. Get the information you need to know, but don’t feel that getting that same information from six different sources is going to make you feel better; it won’t.
- Be thankful every day that you have what you have, because there are millions of people who don’t have even close to what you have.
These are great messages at any time of the year, not just the holiday season. Family is a gift. Your family might be traditional in nature, or it might be a little less conventional. Your family might be on the other end of a telephone or your family might have four legs. Family is family and they deserve the best of you.
I hope that when you walk in the door tonight you walk in with a smile on your face, and an appreciation for what you have. It’s worth it.