Yes I said the 'C' word, and it's still October!! Let's face it, Christmas is not about celebrating one day of the year, it is a lengthy process of preparation that can involve all kinds of stressors and worries that may fuel anxiety in some. But let's not assume the worse, because equally so, and it can be a time of preparation for a beautiful heart-felt reunion of loved ones. For most people, the truth is somewhere along that perceptual spectrum.
This article explores how we can each take ownership of family harmony at Christmas and offers a simple and effective process that you can try at home to raise the bar on harmony. We begin to address harmony by considering what it means?
Q:What does 'Harmony in your family' mean to you?
Feeling Perplexed? Noticing your thoughts taking a few moments to clarify? If you are nodding, this is because it may well be the first time you have asked yourself the question in a long time, perhaps it is the first time ever? So let's take a moment to reflect and really consider the meaning of 'Harmony?'.
Harmony is being in agreement, a pleasing arrangement, acceptance of differences and people living in peace. Would you agree, or add anything to this? Now, with the meaning of harmony in mind, how do you rate your family harmony generally? (On a % scale, 100% being total harmony). Write this number down on a piece of paper to identify your place on the harmony spectrum!
Now, ask yourself, what would be different if you were at 100%? What would be different about how people think, behave and communicate? How would things look to a fly on the wall? What would be different about how it feels to be in the home with each other? Take a few moments to make some notes or have some thoughts about this.
When we consider the changes that may occur if a state of harmony were achieved, we begin to recognise what is needed to make the changes. These opportunities for growing towards greater harmony may require clearer expectations and boundaries for children and teenagers, it may be that positive ways of communicating need to be better modeled, or that techniques for managing powerful emotions and changing hormones be learnt. It is possible that personal beliefs would benefit from being enhanced in a positive direction, self-esteem developed, confidence cultivated, assertiveness embraced, the ability to say 'no' strengthened,and the recognition of the importance of letting go of trying to control embraced, and in the space created, a new acceptance of what cannot be changed or controlled and a new system integrated, a system based on positive values, upheld by a new boundary framework enforced with positive reinforcement and clear consequences that are religiously maintained to facilitate positive behaviour change and the potential for a stronger sense of security, trust and respect to be developed. It may be that allocated time is made to talk to each other, to be together doing something fun, together, and more often. It may be that responsibilities need to be defined and needs and wants requested. And, it may be that everything is actually going pretty well, it's juts that the pressure is on, and the family just needs a conscious decision to work on proper relaxation and making moments of peace to raise the feeling of harmony through a deeper sense of peace.
What resonates with you in these words? What do you believe would support you in growing towards family harmony? And, what is actually within your control to have impact on today?
Your Power to Create Family Harmony: It is for certain that within your control is the ability to make choices about your own thoughts, actions and reactions. It is within your control to ask for your needs and wants to be met and to ask others about what they need and want from you. It is within your control to modify how you communicate with yourself; how much more you speak from a place of loving kindness to your own mind. It is within your power to set boundaries on behaviour; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable and how will you respond when the line is crossed, while honoring your own values and the values you wish to integrate within your family and home?It is within your power to manage your own emotional reactions. And yes, after a long day, with not enough sleep, hormonal mayhem, too much to do and urgent homework assignments or full costumes due in the morning!!, managing emotions may seem impossible and it may well be, so relax, give yourself a break, embrace acceptance, love, understanding and reality! It's okay, you are only human and sometimes it's just hard.
Take a moment to consider your teenage children, the newness of hormones and overwhelming emotions, the urgency to be acceptance and included, the pressure to be online 24/7, to succeed, attain, achieve, and liked, and ask yourself: 'How could compassion support me and my family?' Accept that you are a human being and when you 'loose it', forgive yourself. All we can do, is try and try again; failure is an inevitable part of success and a value from which we can learn greatly. Focus on where it is realistic to make changes, and then, when the bigger challenges arrive, you will, as a consequence of practice, become better able to manage.
Now, take a breath, release the pressure, there is no pressure. In reality, change takes time, for you and for your family members. Release expectations, set only clear intentions and realistic actions, and try. Reward yourself and others for the small steps; in time they will become celebrations of a mountain peak attained; a mountain built on love, compassion, respect, acceptance, understanding, wisdom, strength, forgiveness and any other values you choose to build your family on.
You have the power to facilitate greater harmony for yourself, your family and your world.