Yep, that’s right. There’s no avoiding stress this holiday season. Well, not in the way that you or most people think.
There is a collective and very popular belief that peace and stress are separate from us. The way we talk about peace and stress creates the illusion that we have no control over them happening or being our experience when certain things take place. I heard evidence of this sense of separation and lack of control a few days ago when a girlfriend of mine said, “We’ve decided not to go his mother’s house this Christmas – we want to avoid the stress.” I wondered if stress rented a room in this woman’s house and relished my friend’s visits as it enjoyed putting her under a spell that forced her into being frustrated and anxious while she was there. I told her to send me her in-laws’ address so I too could stay away from there and have a truly merry Christmas.
When we talk about avoiding stress like all we can do is pray it don’t come ’round no more, we are disempowering ourselves and taking no accountability for the powerful role we play in the experiences we have.
I often hear people say, “I just want to find some peace”. Finding peace sounds like at one point we had a device that made us feel good and now can’t for the life of us remember where we put it down. And now the search is on. During my childhood my mother would often say, “All I want is some peace and quiet.” For years it was her mantra. Even as a kid I picked up on the odd and impossible nature of her desire to find peace. One mother’s day I gave her a blank cassette as a gift and on the label it said, “Press Play For Some Peace & Quiet”.
Since peace isn’t something that we will ever find tucked away in a drawer and because stress isn’t something that swoops into a room and forces us to feel a certain way, I’m left believing that the only way to find peace is by creating peaceful thoughts and being peaceful. Because our thoughts create our experience, the only way to avoid stress this holiday season is to avoid being stressful and creating stressful thoughts about your in-laws and other inevitable yuletide challenges.
So, you CAN avoid stress this holiday season – it’s just not in the way that you or most people think.