Posts Tagged ‘healthyrelationships’

THE 12 YEA’S OF CHRISTMAS: “GETTING ALONG WITH FAMILY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Is world peace really possible? Maybe, but peace begins within, then extends into the home before it can reach global proportions. Sadly, the holidays, proclaimed the most wonderful time of the year, are more realistically the most stressful, bringing out the worst in people rather than the true spirit of love and generosity.

Most Christian families dream of a traditional Hallmark Christmas: perfectly wrapped gifts hidden beneath an impeccably decorated tree; the aromatic scents of sumptuous food baking in the oven; colored lights that magically twinkle to the sounds of traditional Christmas carols; and family members enjoying the company of loved ones seated around the dining room table.
Yet for many, the most wonderful time of the year is actually comprised of arguing, fighting, stubbornness, resentments, rifts, and personality clashes. The very messages of peace, love and kindness are buried among arrogant egos. Not having a perfect family does not mean families cannot share a joyful holiday season together. People can learn to get along with family members they are not particularly fond of or who are difficult or dramatic. Simply follow my “12 YEA’S OF CHRISTMAS” plan.

1. Minimize your time together. There is no hard and fast rule stating that we must spend all of our time, or even a full day, with our loved ones. Too much time together can lead to drama: people getting on each other’s nerves or increasing the risk that someone may say or do something offensive, thereby setting off a series of heated conflict. Instead of a long drawn-out holiday dinner, plan a 2 hour brunch instead. Less time = less risk.

2. Be prepared. Plan ahead how you’re going to interact with one another, especially those who may potentially create drama. Going blindly into a possible dramatic situation can leave one feeling unprepared for whatever chaos may ensue. Just as one knows exactly what to do in the event of a kitchen fire, one must also be prepared for any inappropriate behavior from family. The better prepared, the more effective one can be in minimizing any damage and returning the situation to a joyful celebration. If Aunt Harriet criticizes everyone and everything, enlist the aid of other family members to remind her that today is a day of joy and any unfavorable remarks of any kind are momentarily banned.

3. Focus on the good. Find something about those challenging members that you like, admire or respect or perhaps a fond memory you have of them. Use this as your opening conversation. For those less-than-favorite-but-must-socialize-with family members, remind yourself that every person has something favorable about them. Keeping in mind that thoughts determine our feelings which ultimately dictate how we treat one another, be certain to form an positive thought about the individual before engaging with them. Begin your interaction on an affirmative note: perhaps offer them a compliment. The person who initiates the conversation sets the tone. And remember, every family member has value and adds value to the overall dynamics of the day.

4. Remind yourself of the message. The holiday season is about love (aka kindness). Fill everyone’s stockings with kindness. Go out of your way, for just this day, to be kind to everyone, especially those who are the most difficult. Vow to bring out the best in everyone at the gathering. Put aside your dislike of them as best you can and be the example of true generosity. Feelings and behaviors are contagious and you can be an inspiration for others to follow your lead. Be a leader. Help your grandmother hang up her coat; offer to set or clear the table for the host; spend time taking with your moody nephew.

5. Refrain from judging and labeling. Every person has personal issues, you and I included. Separate their behavior from who they are intrinsically (children of God). Their poor conduct s is reflective of whatever is troubling them. Don’t take personal offense. Be compassionate and understanding. Look beyond the outward behavior to the intrinsic goodness of who they are. Repeat after me: “They are worried/stressed/hurting but they are my family. Their behavior does not apply to me. Sometimes even I misbehave. Therefore I will respond with compassion.”

6. Practice introspection. Ask yourself, “Why do I allow their behavior to bother me? What is it within me that needs to heal so that this will no longer be an issue for me?” Only when we look within and question our own reactions and reasons behind them do we have the ability to truly enjoy our family. If my cousin overeats, why is that an issue for me? Once I am able to find the answer to that question, their eating habits will no longer bother me and I am free to simply enjoy their company.

7. Establish a commonality. Particularly with those who pose the greatest challenge to us, finding common ground provides somewhat of a bond between us. Two women who are mothers, men who share a love of professional sports – these are areas where people can relate to one another, thus providing a deeper understanding of the other. And understanding leads to trust, the very building block for strong relationships. If Aunt Joan made the deserts, tell her you found a great new recipe that you’d like her opinion on.

8. Avoid sensitive or controversial topics. Use humor whenever necessary to diffuse tension. One can thoughtfully redirect the conversation should it enter the “danger” zone of a highly volatile topic. “Let’s not discuss my credit card debt tonight, Uncle Harry. Let’s talk about your last vacation. Was it fun?” Or, the shift can be more discreet. If a sensitive issue comes up, redirect it by saying, “Oh before I forget, I wanted to let you know that next week I have a doctor’s appointment and I need someone to watch the kids for me. Is that possible?” From that point, you can easily continue on less controversial matters.

9. Set limits and boundaries. No one needs to be subjected to offensive or inappropriate behaviors, not matter how understanding or patient they are. If cousin Joe is drinking excessively, one can certainly tell him (politely but firmly) that he has had enough to drink and offer him coffee or a soft drink as an alternative. Keep in mind, that boundaries must be fair and reasonable and only put into place if the so-called offense is serious enough to warrant it.

10. Practice forgiveness. Forgive the insensitive remarks, mistakes, and lack of finesse. Let things roll off your back. We need not actively address each and every incident that does not meet our standards of appropriate behavior. If someone comments that my dress is unflattering on my body type, I need not make an issue out of it. I can ignore it, let it roll of my back, and chalk it up to a thoughtless comment. To confront the party at that moment could create a scene that could certainly ruin the holiday for myself and others. If necessary, if it is important enough, I can address it at a later date.

11. Love vicariously. Keep in mind that the person you label difficult is probably loved by someone you love. Treat them kindly out of respect for the other party. Think about how you would feel if your child was behaving badly and others spoke unkindly about him or worse, treated him as such. Would that not be painful for you as well? Even if I may not be fond of my son’s wife, he loves her and I love him. Therefore out of love and respect for him, I treat her as if she is special to me, for indirectly she is.

12. Remember your authentic nature is love. To be anything less than love to anyone else will create conflict and dis-ease within you. Be true to yourself; be gracious, generous, and kind at all times. Remember, too, that karma is always at work. What you send out will be returned to you. But more importantly, you will be judged by God. Be an example of His goodness in this world, especially to your family, for He always repays our kindness.

We all have obnoxious, self-centered, opinionated people in our families, including ourselves. We could choose to avoid them from Nov. to Jan. or we could argue our way through the holidays. However, there is no honor in either. To make a concerted effort to peacefully and lovingly engage with our diverse family members enables us to test our full potential of being the spiritual creations we are; to live our Divine beliefs and practice the true message of the holidays which is love and peace, goodwill to all mankind. Take the time to incorporate the 12 YEA’S OF CHRISTMAS into your holiday season, regardless of your specific religious beliefs. You can have harmony in your home for the holidays.

“We cannot be a world at peace until we are first a people of peace.” The Secret Side of Anger by Janet Pfeiffer

PEACE ON EARTH. GOOD WILL TOWARDS MEN.

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IT’S NOT FAIR!

At one time or another, we’ve all complained that life isn’t fair. Children do it all the time: Karen, who is older by two years, is allowed to stay up later than her younger siblings. They complain to dad that they’re being treated unjustly, not realizing that at the same age her bedtime was thirty minutes earlier. As adults, we attribute this behavior to immaturity and expect that as children grow and develop this rationale will make way for a more judicious way of thinking . Sadly, many people carry this mind-set with them well into adulthood. Two of my favorite comedians from years back, Tom and Dick Smothers, had a standing skit where one grumbled that “Mom always liked you best!”, indicating a biased favoritism. On stage, this is entertaining. In real life, it’s unflattering and harmful.

Gary Zukov, NY Times bestselling author of The Seat of the Soul, says that the most important thing we have are our belief systems. Our entire lives are built upon them and if inaccurate we struggle and suffer. Believing that life was designed to be fair and balanced is a faulty tenet. When we see an perceived injustice we seek to recreate rightfulness. When it is not forthcoming, we feel frustrated and discriminated against. “I should have gotten that promotion, not the boss’s son. I’ve been here longer. That’s not fair!”

In our relationships, especially the close, personal or intimate ones, this kind of mindset can prove devastating. There are those who actually keep score: “I helped you when you needed it. Now you should give me a hand as well. That’s only right.” “I paid for our last evening out. Now it’s your turn.” In an attempt to keep things equitable, we manipulate the other party into feeling guilty should they decline our request. Seeking equality is a futile endeavor – it simply does not exist in an imperfect world inhabited by imperfect human beings. Attempting to do so is one of the quickest ways to build anger and resentment – toxic ingredients capable of destroying lives.

Life isn’t fair yet it is perfectly just. The lyrics to a Colin Raye song state that “You don’t always get what you want, you get what you need.” If we subscribe to this premise, which I do, then life is exactly what we need it to be. Each experience, each individual, each loss, each success is exactly what is necessary for us to fulfill our Divine Destiny, our Dharma (as Wayne Dyer calls it). If my child wants to be a great artist, I provide them with the proper canvases, brushes, and paints. If my son has a sprained ankle, I get him crutches. Identical? No. Fair? Yes. Each is receiving exactly what they need in that moment for their own good. Fair does not mean the same – it means having equal value. We become angry in part because we mistakenly assign random values to events and then compare what each of us has.

One of our greatest challenges lies in realizing that we are not meant to be treated alike but that the Universe, in all of its infinite wisdom, always provides exactly what we are meant to have for our higher good and that each experience has equal value.

What then is the solution to avoiding the bitterness and resentment assigned to the belief that life should be fair?

1. Remember that if life were perfectly balanced we would learn nothing: patience, appreciation, determination, forgiveness, and much more.

2. Celebrate the successes of others, extend compassion for their losses regardless of where you are in life, knowing that at the precise moment it is needed each will receive what they are intended to have.

3. Keep in mind that every single experience, no matter how insignificant, no matter how painful or frightening plays a unique role in fulfilling our Divine Destiny – which is always to bring us closer to God.

4. Don’t compare or keep score. One never fully realizes the challenges others are struggling with. Focus only on addressing and learning from your own. Failure to do so leads to self-pity, victimization, misery, and suffering.

5. Trust that God’s love for you always directs you to your highest good. Be at peace with your life. You are in good hands, the best hands, with God.

Life may not appear to be fair but it is always unbiased. Each of us is given exactly what we need to assist us in our spiritual growth and to bring us into a more intimate relationship with our Lord. Sounds pretty just to me.

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5 QUALITIES OF NON VIOLENT FIGHTING

When individuals disagree on a subject matter, whether it’s politics, religion, home projects, budgeting issues or such, very often the discussion escalates into a full-blown fight. Tensions rise as each side tries to convince the other that their beliefs or ways of doing something are more valid that the others, that they are right on their position. In my conflict resolution training program, I stress the importance of refraining from using the terms right or wrong. To do so indicates an insecurity that needs strengthening by proving oneself superior over another. The vast majority of issues we disagree on are not matters of right or wrong: they are simply issues of perception, preference, or opinion. Only issues of morality or fact can be deemed accurate or false. To recommend that people refrain from debating certain topics that they disagree on is unnecessary. Debates can be beneficial on so many levels such as enabling both sides to learn something new, to entertain the possibility that there is some validity to what the other is saying, to hone their communication and listening strategies, as well as learning tolerance and acceptance.

So how can two people strongly disagree on a topic and discuss it without having it escalate into verbal violence or aggression? There are five key strategies one must employ.

Confidence: When an individual feels strongly that their beliefs, ideas, feelings or ways of living life are valid, they are able to submit compelling facts to support their side. They are strong and secure in their position and comfortable with what they are presenting to support their side. Confidence does not feel threatened by those who disagree as they feel that no matter how strongly the other party feels about their position, a poised person can hold their ground and not acquiesce to their ways. Confidence, a belief in one’s abilities, enables the person to listen open-mindedly without fear of how the other might react or respond to them, nor what opinion the other person may form about them. Good, bad, or indifferent, confidence says, “I’m fine with whatever the outcome of our conversation is.”

They are also interested in sharing their thoughts without the need to convert the other party to their ways nor show them the error of theirs. There is no competition; only shared dialogue.

Those who are insecure or uncertain present a weak perspective easily crushed by the other side. In this instance, they feel at a disadvantage and may easily resort to yelling, raging, insults, criticisms, threats, demeaning comments and so on in order to intimidate the other party to back off, thus giving the illusion that they won. However, one who is secure in their beliefs creates a win-win situation for all, allowing the other side to maintain their dignity and beliefs as well.

Assertive: One who is assertive is gifted with a strong sense of self, a belief that they are capable of handling themselves well in any given situation. Regardless of the nature of the disagreement, an assertive person cares deeply about the well-being of their opponent with no interest in degrading them by proving them to be error. Differences are viewed as assets rather than obstacles and a lively debate is welcomed. Comfortable with taking the initiative, they are highly focused on finding common ground with the other party and are adept at directing the conversation on a positive course. If one party veers off on a tangent, they can readily bring them back into focus. If the other party becomes irate or hostile, they are well-equipped to set some boundaries and diffuse the incident. Assertives have a quiet air of inner strength and confidence about them; they neither rant nor yell nor threaten nor belittle. Their tone of voice is steady, strong and clear. They are leaders with viable skills and concern that keep a potentially volatile situation calm and productive.

Respectful: Respect is a treatment that we all seek yet few actually know the meaning of the word. To respect means to value. All human beings want to be treated with dignity and respect, as though they matter. Reverence does not have to be earned – it is a God-given right of every person ever born into this world. Yet some seem to believe that they have the authority to designate who has greater worth than another. If this is the mindset of one who engages in an oppositional discussion then there is sure to be frustration, anger, and hostility from the other side. It is critical to view the other person as worthy as yourself, to begin the discussion on an equal playing field so that no one feels greater or less than the other. This simple message, that you matter as much as I do, enables the other party to lower their defenses and trust you in the sense that you have their best interest at heart as you do your own. Even though I may vehemently disagree with your position, even though I may not understand it, a respectful individual recognizes that their beliefs are equally as valid to them as mine are to me. Being polite in that one simple regard dictates the nature and course of the conversation and keeps it on a positive and constructive note.

Fair-minded: One of humanities basic needs is to be treated fairly. This involves providing sufficient time for the other person to present their side; to listen without criticizing or interrupting; to refrain from making fun of or trying to disprove their points. Finding some valid points sends the message that you recognize the legitimacy of what they are saying even if you do not agree with it. Being fair means commenting on the issues, not criticizing the person (attack the issues not the individual).

If the discussion is one what needs a resolution, a fair-minded person will seek some sort of compromise. Their desire to make certain the other party is satisfied with the outcome is critically important to them. They will typically reassure them by making certain their needs are being met first and/or giving them more than they are expecting or entitled to. They fully embrace the belief that it is better to give than to receive and that it is in giving that we receive the most.

Solution-oriented: Not every disagreement will be resolved nor are they meant to be. Sometimes a debate is simply a sharing of ideas, beliefs, feelings or position. You will never convince a Republican to join the Democratic party or vice versa. Nor should we. It is in our differences that we find growth and expansion.

However, in those situations where an agreement is imperative, it is key to begin the conversation with the end goal in mind. What are we seeking to accomplish? What absolutely needs to take place in order for this issue to be put to rest at the satisfaction of both parties? Having a clear goal enables one to lay out a straightforward plan of action to achieve those goals. They are not sidetracked by superfluous facts or opinions, they avoid blame and finger-pointed, and they stay focused on finding a solution. They listen to all sides and take into consideration all perspectives and suggestions in addition to keeping the process short and sweet.

It’s critically important to enter into any discussion with a positive and open mind. Seek to listen, to learn, to understand, and to care about. If you find yourself becoming frustrated, take a moment and practice the SWaT Strategy: STOP the conversation, WALK away to emotionally disconnect, and TALK yourself calm. When you have regained your composure, return with the intent to have a successful and productive conversation. Utilize the 5 Qualities – confidence, assertive, respectful, fair-minded, and solution-oriented – and you fill discover a simple path to having a non-violent fight.

Ephesians 4:2 “Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love.”

Order The Secret Side of Anger, Second Edition or The Great Truth @ http://www.pfeifferpowerseminars.com/pps1-products.html

Listen to past shows on iHeart Radio @ http://ow.ly/OADTf
Listen to my newest iHeart Radio show, BETWEEN YOU AND GOD, @ http://ow.ly/OADJK
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