Summer is over, the cooler weather, and the holidays that follow, are almost here. Every year, we promise ourselves, post holiday, that we will do things differently, or more efficiently, next time. This has been a very stressful time for so many of us, with our women and men dying for us overseas, unemployment, illnesses and more.
Autumn has always been a reflective time of year, a de-stressing from busy summer planting and activities. It is a perfect time to close unfinished business, make amends and strengthen your relationships. Think of it this way. Wouldn’t it be great if you could finally have a holiday, free from angst and past garbage?
Start by writing down events of the past year, using two columns: positive/ negative. Think about the issues that trouble you most in your relationships with others. How much of the trouble is your responsibility? What can you do to change it for the better? Have you intentionally hurt someone you love? Look at your family closely. What can be done to build a tighter, stronger family unit? It isn’t easy taking a good deep look inside yourself. It’s extremely uncomfortable and often pretty revealing.
This exercise requires strict self- honest introspection on your part. It means taking total responsibility for your actions, without excuse or rationalization. This isn’t meant to be done in a day or two, but over a period of weeks. Especially for someone who has never cleaned house before.
This is an excellent time for couples to renew and change their relationships for the better.Ask your mate to give you a wish list of things he/she would most like to see happen between you. What needs changing? You can swap your letters and then set aside time privately to discuss things. Both of you need to agree to not use this as a weapon to hurt one another, and to take any criticisms offered as well meant. If you have hurt each other, this exercise can be prefaced by a note of apology for whatever caused the problem, taking full responsibility. It is very important to personal growth to accept that you may not get the response you’d hoped for. The point of doing this, isn’t about the response, but your becoming mature enough to say I did it, I’m sorry. On your part, you perhaps would take a long look at the why’s of your behaving in certain ways. If you need help, get some counseling or discuss it with a trusted friend.
Children benefit enormously from this type of communication. With the overbooked lives so many of us lead, our children’s needs and issues tend to get overlooked or minimized. Ask your children to participate in some honest family soul searching. Ask them how you’re doing as a parent. What bothers them the most? What can you do to change that? You can negotiate a brand new family interaction, given a willingness on everyone’s part to work at it. What a great time to start some goal setting and character building ideals into your family unit.
Ask your child which goals in school, sports/activity, and personal growth they’d like to set. Once they’ve identified them, create a chart, where they can visibly be reminded and track their progress. To complement their work, you can set your own goals and they can then interact with you in meeting these goals. This encourages cooperation and communication between you. If your child has been given too many things without earning them, it’s time for change. Let them know from now on anything they receive will be earned in a variety of ways. That includes some show of selflessness. Community work, cooperation, acts of kindness and doing things out of love. What a concept!
Our parents are often a source of deeply hidden angst and resentment. If you have an extremely troubled relationship with your parents or siblings, try and work on reaching some level of comfort. If the issues are deeply entrenched, or involve abuse or deception, this will require great courage on your part. Again, this is about closure for you, and anything else positive that may come out of it is only a bonus. Realize that someone who has hurt you badly, may not be able to own their actions. You however, can own yours. The greatest gift you can give yourself and others is forgiveness. Once you can strip away the layers of selfish pain, and see the person as human and very flawed, forgiveness becomes easier. And with that act of letting go of anger and hurt, comes freedom. You have unshackled yourself from the chains that have held you for so long.
Make this coming holiday season a celebration of your personal growth and renewed commitment to living with honesty and love. If it’s too difficult to deal with the way things still are with others, change your holiday plans. Do something fresh and new to reflect the differences inside you. Change is often a frightening concept. I promise you, if you put some time and sincere effort into your inner world, you will come away feeling years younger and much more serene. Give yourself the gift of love, and make the changes needed to help you grow into the beautiful human being God meant you to be.