Yesterday I shared two stories with you from Carrie’s ezine about clutter – both physical clutter (the storage unit) and mental clutter (ideas nagging at you, telling you that you should have already done something, making you feel guilty). We can take the best of those ideas in our head that have potential and value, and transform them into something beautiful and creative which can bless and serve those around us, and can glorify God.
Stress in our lives is “emotional clutter.” Today’s guest post by John J. Simmons is about transforming the stress in our lives that is especially prevalent around the holidays. If we’re all stressed out this holiday, it’s going to be hard to focus it on Jesus, which is why we’re celebrating Christmas in the first place! We can de-stress by choosing to look at our circumstances with an alternate point of view and by making new choices.
In this post below, the practical questions John asks and challenges us with on looking at things from an alternate point of view can be applied to many different aspects of our lives: the stressful holidays, our business, our marriage, parenting, homeschooling, writing a book, building a speaking platform, our career or ministry, financial problems, conflicts in a relationship, etc.
Today lay down your expectations (and your worries or stress!). Get “a room with a view” – a new view! Give yourself some new choices, especially concerning this holiday season. You don’t have to spend a lot on presents. You don’t have to go around Christmas Day to five relatives’ houses for dinner and dessert. You don’t have to stuff yourself at dinner until it hurts. You don’t have to argue with that relative who just loves stirring up drama and strife each year. You don’t have to go to all those parties, but can stay home and just enjoy the kids and your husband.
You can look at things with a different perspective, and this holiday you can choose peace and tranquility. You can make new choices. These new choices will help you to succeed – and you and others will have a much happier holiday and coming year! Here is John’s article. Enjoy!
Quick Learning: Stress Transformation – Our Stories, Our Stress
For the last three issues, we have talked about stories and how they affect our perception of the situations we are in… and the stress they can cause during the holidays. We have covered the family get-togethers and it’s opposite – loneliness.
This issue, I would like to address some other areas that our stories can cause stress and tension for us during the holidays.
More than any other time of year, this season carries with it greater expectations (and baggage), due to the traditions that have built up. And tradition is a very powerful thing. In fact, Silvia Hartmann calls it a “powerfield”.
Some of the stories we tell ourselves are:
It has to look like Mom’s used to look.
It has to match the family’s expectation.
It has to be as good as last year’s.
It has to be bigger and better than last year’s.
I have to be SuperMom/SuperMan.
My love is expressed by how many presents I give (or get).
If I don’t give them “X”, then I will disappoint them.
If they don’t give me “X”, then it will prove they don’t [insert your fear here] me.
My worth is expressed by [insert your insecurity here].
So, how can we change that?
It probably won’t surprise you to hear me suggest “change your story, change your stress” applies here. I only repeat it because it is true… and powerful.
In previous issues I have suggested finding an alternative way of looking at the situation in order to gain a different perspective. Please remember that it doesn’t mean you have to end up with that alternate viewpoint… only that you need to find it and consider it. You might very well decide that you REALLY DO have to make it bigger or better than last year’s.
However, once you have considered the alternative(s), you have the power to choose the one you want to live with. You are no longer a slave to the powerfield. You now are free to choose your outcome (insofar are you can control an outcome.)
The beauty of considering an alternate version is that it automatically changes your story… temporarily anyway. If you choose to go back to the old story, at least you have done it deliberately and not simply out of habit (or wounding.)
So, how you do you get an alternate viewpoint? Ask yourself a question or two. Things like:
Is there another way to look at this?
Could this be explained in another way?
How would it look to someone from another culture?
Can I do this another way?
What if I don’t “X”? Who will care? (Besides you, I mean.)
Is there a silver lining to not doing “X”?
Of course, there are many ways you can phrase the concepts embodied in the questions above. The main thing is to utilize the concept so you can give yourself choices.
I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the consequences of our choices. Sometimes, the price of not doing something is higher than we are willing to pay — and that is okay. In fact, that is a part of life. Our choices and our actions do have consequences. And all I am suggesting is that you acknowledge your choices and take ownership of your decisions. In that way lies both freedom, and, surprisingly, a reduction of stress.
John’s original blog post on holiday stress is here.
Copyright 2010 John J. Simmons. All Rights Reserved.
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