We all face a raft of extra challenges to our emotions over the holidays. Heavy traffic, crowded malls, anxiety about all the baggage that comes with family get-togethers and/or the loneliness that makes us feel isolated while others seem to be celebrating. It’s easy to lose your temper or say and do things that you will regret later. Among the people I coach, there is often a refrain that goes something like, “That just wasn’t me,” to explain away these outbursts.
So, here’s a Micro-Resilience tip: Brain research from Dr. Matthew Lieberman at UCLA shows that simply labeling your feelings can help to dial back the rush of emotions that can so quickly get out of control. Try to notice what triggers you. Then silently ask yourself how this state makes you feel. Are you frustrated, humiliated, or annoyed? Putting words to your emotions helps slow down the hijacked sensation and, at the same time, allows you some space to have more control your reactions. Instead of annoyed, you could be amused; you could choose humility or self-compassion over humiliation; instead of paralyzed with fear, you could be excited about the challenge. The point is: you have CHOICES about how you manage your emotions.
It is natural to suppress negative feelings and try to pretend they aren’t happening – especially during what is supposed to be a joyous time of year. But it turns out that noticing our horrible holiday emotional traps, and describing them with labels, actually makes it easier to keep them under control.
You know you will be derailed in some fashion, so just be more aware of your feelings, anticipate the things that will set you off, and start putting a label on your emotions to keep yourself in the driver’s seat. That way, when you look back on this holiday season, you’ll remember being your best self – and you’ll have the smile filled pictures to prove it.
[If you’d like to give to others the gift of more resilience in 2017, email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll send you a certificate you can put under the tree to let people know that you bought them a copy of our book Micro-Resilience: Minor Shifts for Major Boosts in Focus, Drive, and Energy and that it will be coming to them at the beginning of February. You will also receive an invitation to attend several free virtual Micro-Resilience coaching seminars in early 2017 that you can pass along.]