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Strengthening Relationships During the Holidays

Posted by Stephen Hager

What better time is there to strengthen your most important relationships than during the holidays?  This may seem a bit counter intuitive, considering that the holidays are often the most stressful time of year for many people.  Multiple things are going on, such as event planning, decorating, gift purchases, budget concerns, and family expectations.  However, what’s the sense of getting your to-do list accomplished, when your stress level rubs off on others and everyone around you is in an agitated state, rather than being in a grateful and playful mood?

Holidays are windows of opportunity to celebrate life with the people you love and care about. Life is meant to be joyful and shared with people who support and love one another.  The key to strengthening your relationships is to get in touch  with and prioritize the qualities of your kind and caring nature; it’s ”how” you treat yourself and others as you accomplish life activities. This simple mental refocus shifts relationships to the high road, while providing more meaning and fulfillment to your life.  Things still get done; the difference is that you have greater peace of mind and less stress, plus, you feel better about yourself and have stronger personal relationships.

Following these practical neuroscience steps will make this holiday season the best and most memorable ever:

1. Reflect deeply and honestly on the following questions to be more self-aware of your patterns of thinking and behaviors. A visual record of your stream of thoughts will help you process the information, and gain clarity on what you want to change.

a. What do I see and feel are the true purposes for the holidays?
b. What is my state of mind before the holidays?
c. Are my favorite memories linked to:

  • Doing and getting things done?
  • The quality of interactions with others?
  • A dynamic balance of giving and receiving?

d. Where and how do I expend the most time and energy?
e. Who are the people I most want to celebrate life with?
f. What’s my state of mind and body during this period?
g. How satisfied and fulfilled am I after the Holidays?
h. Am I willing to change my thinking and priorities for better outcomes?

2. Shift your focus from your sense of obligation and responsibility for “doing” to getting clear on what you really want to experience with people you care about. The litmus test is achieving outcomes that serve all parties in good and reciprocal ways.

3. Communicate your intention of making relationships, with the people you will be with, your #1 priority during the holidays. Use language that truly reflects your deeper, caring nature.  Communicate: “I intend to be more (fill in with the qualities you select) with you.”  Examples of “being” qualities include kind, forgiving, grateful, patient, happy, playful, fun, helpful, open, available, respectful, trusting, empathetic, compassionate, generous and trusting. You’ll be amazed and touched by how people respond, when you communicate that you care about them and they are an important priority.

In summary, putting your caring nature in charge of relationships and how you go about accomplishing life activities is your key to greater happiness. You may even find that you will get more accomplished in less time with less stress, when you get your relationship priorities aligned with your "high road self." By now, you most likely have come to the conclusion that these strategies are ways of living and being, not just for seasonal use. Becoming and being a “Neu and Better You” is a continuous and joyful journey.

ANNOUNCEMENT:  Please take a look at the Events page for our special, Home for the Holidays: Building Stronger Relationships Webinar. We will build on the theme of this blog post and provide high-impact, practical neuroscience communication tools.  We will respond to questions during the session and craft personalized messages via email. We will also cover how to repair and improve damaged relationships.

Look forward to seeing you online!


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