Holidays can be great, but they can also be challenging. Each person in every family has his or her own energy, plus the collective energy of the family itself. This is true for both nuclear families as well as extended families.
It’s easy to get drawn into old or stagnant family energies and stories that may not serve or uplift you. These stories may, in fact, create inner disturbances you can’t quite pinpoint. As a result, you might find yourself anticipating stress at holiday gatherings, if not dreading them altogether. This might be because old, negative, and unconscious patterns are playing out on the stage of your life, even though these patterns are not in alignment with your current values, intentions, or goals.
Here’s an exercise for not getting sucked into powerful, negative family dynamics. This is helpful to do any time of year and with any person who’s taking up too much space in you head, but it can be especially helpful during the holiday season.
Fill in the blank below with the name of a family member of your choosing, and recite or write the words that follow:
“_______, I respectfully return to you any and all energies of yours that I’ve been carrying. I accept and love you as you are. And I accept and love myself as I am. I honor you and I honor myself. I release you, bless you, and set you free. In so doing, I liberate myself and give thanks for my many blessings.”
If you’re feeling less than joyous at the prospect of seeing your family during the holidays, try to identify any judgments you may have placed against yourself or others and forgive yourself for them.
Here are a few examples of things you might be holding onto but needing to release:
Both of these exercises can help you maintain your equilibrium before, during, or after feasting with your family!
And let’s not lose sight of what the holidays are about: gratitude, connection, and generosity of spirit. Celebrate in whatever ways make sense. Don’t go on autopilot and engage in rituals that aren’t meaningful for you. Create your own meaning. Write your own stories. If you’re not happy during the holidays, ask why not. Write the part of you that’s unhappy a letter. Let it respond. Give your unhappiness a voice. Ask what it wants. Be generous and compassionate with yourself. Create a holiday season that is uniquely yours. Look for the blessings. They are right in front of you. Slow down. Savor love. Celebrate your gifts. You do not have to shop for the perfect gift. You are the perfect gift. Be the perfect gift you are!
A couple weeks ago, using the voice memo function on my iPhone, I recorded pages of affirmations I’ve written over several years. I ended up with an hour and twenty minutes of recorded affirmations. I’ve been listening to them through headphones while falling asleep at night, and again early in the morning, during receptive theta brain wave states.
A few days into this practice, I dreamed I was trying to have a conversation with myself, but my Self wasn’t listening; instead it was spewing affirmations at me! I awakened wondering if my new practice was smart or stupid. Was I drowning out essential thoughts or ignoring some vital aspect of my Self? Was I interfering with deep nocturnal conversations? I kept these questions in mind while continuing to experiment.
I found myself looking forward to my bedtime ritual, plugging my phone into its charger and earpods, carefully arranging wires over my shoulder, to keep them out of the way, setting my phone on my night table, lying on my back, placing one hand on my heart and the other on my belly, letting go, listening and surrendering to the sound of my own voice.
I was surprised how gentle and soothing it was. I’d recorded the affirmations after meditating, so my voice was calm and steady. I spoke slowly and clearly, and I repeated each affirmation twice. That way I could hear the present affirmation, silently focus on it, and then repeat it. I was surprised, too, by the authoritative quality my voice carried—not in a bossy way, but in a deep-knowing way, as if my voice were saying to me, “Listen up. I know what I’m talking about. Trust me.”
Most nights the affirmations seemed to be speaking the truth, but one night, after I’d had a rough day, during which insecurities had been triggered, they seemed sprinkled with lies, and I wondered if I was selling myself a bill of goods. “Yeah, right,” a venomous voice hissed in response to the affirmation that said and then repeated, “I have all the time and money I need.”
This showed me I needed a recalibration; unbeknownst to me, my inner Gremlins had surfaced and taken over. I acknowledged and released my Gremlins, and then leaned into the “potential” truth those statements held by asking myself, “How might this be true in my life? In what way(s) can I stretch into this statement or make it true for me?”
The best affirmations are those that feel at least 50% believable. You make positive “I am” statements in the present tense about what you’d like to invite into your life. By stretching into these thoughts, you begin to attract and create what you are affirming. I’ve worked with affirmations for years. One of my favorite practices has been to recite them while holding a hand mirror, looking into my own eyes, where my bullshit detector is fully present and activated. If something doesn’t ring true, I feel it—and that tells me where I need to focus healing energy and attention.
But there’s something about the sound of my own voice at night that is deeply satisfying in a whole new way. It’s as if I’m my own mother telling myself a happy and hopeful bedtime story. I am simultaneously mother and child, providing and receiving comfort. And it’s effortless. I collapse into bed and lie there. There’s nothing for me to do but listen to the wise, loving, encouraging voice telling me a brand-new story.
Another plus about my practice is that my mind, which can only focus well on one thing at a time, cannot wander or stew over problems while I listen. This cuts down on worry time. I’m not thinking about things that, in the past, may have kept me up at night; I’m thinking about all the positive things I’m calling forth into my life!
And positive things are showing up! I’m resonating deeply with my affirmations and experiencing positive outer changes, which are reflecting the inner ones. My writing feels effortless, I’ve got more people contacting me for coaching than I can take on, my relationships feel more loving, and I’m feeling more grounded and peaceful. Overall, since beginning this practice two weeks ago, I am experiencing flow in every area of my life!
I’d love to hear about your experiences with affirmations. Especially if you try recording them and listening to them as you fall asleep. For me, this has been a very powerful, supportive, and healing process! Try it and let me know what you think!