A Clean Mind

Blogging about a less stressful way to live…

Your 2014 Guide to the Holidays!

Alas, the holidays are upon us once again. And what an amazing measuring stick this time of year is! It’s such a valuable tool for us while we’re on the path to inner peace. Yes, real inner peace. That’s what we’re doing here, by the way… My experience over the holidays shows me how I am doing. Let any crazy-ass family members act however they want. I’m in charge of how I feel and I’m going to test it out once again this year, dammit! They can act however they want, and they are perfectly free to do that. I will not make them guilty. Generally, I get to choose if I hang out with them, though. And the thing about the holidays is that often it seems like we don’t get to choose. We have to be there. If you think about it, though, it’s not that often – once or twice a year for most people. So screw it – just jump in with both feet and see how you do! And own everything – don’t blame anyone else. And compare yourself without judgment (that’s HUGE, and you’ll get better at it with gentle practice) to last year. And the year before. And know that next year you’ll do the same. This can even make the whole thing kind of fun.

There’s usually real love underneath our dysfunctional family relationships that’s just really covered up. This isn’t always the case, of course, but usually it is. Most people are doing the best they can, and they might show their love in a way that doesn’t look so obvious. But that’s their best. When we start to see this, we tend to not react as much. And when we recognize that we aren’t reacting as much, that can feel very good. There’s lots of power there.

Another thing I want to emphasize that I mentioned above is that I am in charge of how I feel. Period. Nobody else is responsible for how I feel – I am. And when I realize more and more that this really is true, whoa – I’m on the inner peace superhighway. This has really been working for me lately. So for the rest of my life, I’m going to simply test this out. You work it just like any muscle or skill; it gets better with gentle and consistent practice. I’m guessing that this idea is going to become a more central part of my message, too. Hey – I’m just feeling my way through life, and this blog simply reflects that. It sure seems like there’s an inner GPS that’s getting stronger and stronger, though.

So the family version of this is that somebody “pushes my buttons,” perhaps by saying something about the past. Or perhaps by not changing and still acting like an a**hole. First of all, they’re your buttons. Only you can push them, and that is a FACT. And I know, it definitely seems like others have the power to push them. It all happens so fast. But we’re slowing the whole thing down, and taking a big breath when you notice your body contract is a huge first step. Back to the story… So I notice an emotional reaction or an inner freak-out, and I instantly relax and tell myself, “Oh hell no – I’m in charge of how I feel, and I’m choosing to feel as cool as possible now – even though that person said what they said or did what they did.” And then I respond to the situation without judgment. I just respond to the situation and move on.

Folks, please listen closely. When you start getting this down, it changes your life. Big time. I’m barely starting to get this, and it seems to be a major game changer already. Major. I’ve asked to speed things up, so I’m running towards any fear and contraction now, the second I notice it in my body. I’ll say, “Yes! What is going on there? Let’s see because this is my chance to release some stuff and raise the bar on what it takes to rattle me.” And that’s really fun!

Gradually, or not so gradually, you’ll notice that your buttons have become smaller and smaller, and then you’ll notice that some of them are gone for good. And if they come back, you’ll know what to do. And the holidays are a really, really awesome time to test this out. Even if you look back and say, “Man, I really sucked this year!” then no worries – just do it with lightness and humor as opposed to heaviness and judgment. Have the attitude that you’re going to learn what you need to learn and then throw the rest of the memory out like the trash that it is. And just tell yourself, “Well, bring it on next year – I’m going to jump right back on that horse and try again with an awesome attitude, because I choose how I feel!”

So I wish you all the very best this year and I say Happy Practicing. Test it out that you’re actually in charge of how you feel. You are and nobody else can possibly be in charge of how you feel. Happiness really is an inside job. Don’t make anybody else responsible for your peace and see what happens. There’s a good chance you’ll still fall prey to some of the same old land mines, and that’s ok. That’s totally fine! What we’re interested in is what you do and what you tell yourself the second you notice it. Starting with a deep, relaxing, awesome breath is the first step. Reread the few paragraphs above and just practice that. Write it down if you need to – I have little yellow sticky notes everywhere. Actually, right now I look like a hoarder of sticky notes, so it’s probably time to consolidate… And come in for a session if you feel that’ll help (or a webcam session if you’re out of town). And… Happy Holidays! You got this…

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All anybody really wants is peace. The good news is that peace can be learned. I’m serious. This should be taught in middle school, but it’s not. So I’m teaching it now.

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