Thriving Through the Holidays: Conscious Choosing

One of the things I often notice when talking with people about the holidays is an overall attitude that the holidays happen to us. We feel that it is just a natural part of the holidays to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and depressed. We allow ourselves to be swept along in the holiday madness. We feel out of control or helpless, and like victims, we allow other people and events to have control over our outcomes. Now, just like with all aspects of our lives, there are parts that do remain out of our control (ie: we can not change other people). However, there are many other areas in which we have become accustomed to relinquishing our right to choose, and instead we just sit back and let other things or people determine our happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction.

I don’t think it has to be this way. I think there is always a choice we can make.

The challenging thing about our habits is we feel like we are doing them instinctively, without actively thinking or choosing. However, this was not always the case. The development of each of our habits started with a choice. We chose to engage in a behavior, thought, or activity. Maybe after a certain amount of time, it feels like the habit happens automatically. But just like we learned to develop a habit, we can unlearn and make a different choice. The first step in this is becoming aware of the choices we are making. After we develop awareness, we can practice catching ourselves when we make those choices. In time, we learn to catch ourselves before we make the choices, and at this point we can substitute a different choice and end up changing our outcome.

What about those other areas that feel totally out of our control? Like the ones that involve our family members and their responses, reactions and patterns of behavior? I believe we still have a choice in these situations as well. We can choose to not engage in discussions that always turn into arguments, or to respond in a different way.

Relationships are a lot like wheels. If you change even just one part of it, the whole thing is going to roll differently.

Accept the areas of your relationship that you do have a choice in, and choose something different. You might just be surprised at how much changes.

I want you to make the effort this holiday season to choose consciously. Be aware of what you are doing and how you are reacting to the people and events happening around you. A reaction doesn’t have to be a mindless response that comes automatically from you. You have a choice of how you react. You have a choice in what you do or do not do. You have a choice in what you allow into your life. You have a choice in what you eat, what you spend, where you go, and who you spend time with. You have a choice.

Exercise your right to consciously choose this holiday season, and help create a different outcome for yourself.

About Liz Fava, LPC

Liz provides individual and couples therapy for adults, including counseling for dating, engaged, and married couples. She also conducts couples workshops, and training and supervision for therapists.