Never go to bed on an argument, stay up and fight!

One of my lovely meetup group entertainingly recited the above advice whilst we were talking about never, ever needing to argue; it made us all smile. I hope you had a fabulous and relaxing Christmas and didn’t succumb to seasonal rowing? It is, unfortunately, something that many people find themselves doing at Christmastime. It is a time when many people have spent more than they can afford, there is so much pressure to make it ‘perfect’ and families are cooped up together for hours…just because they’re related, irrespective of whether they choose to spend time with one another during the rest of the year. There are lots of potentially stressful situations during the holiday period; the annual decision which partner’s parents’ to visit, the altercation about inviting great aunt Edith who always swears through lunch and then snores loudly for the rest of the day, to name but two. Nerves are frazzled, minds are fraught and alcohol is often added to the mix; cue the fireworks.

When we understand that there is no necessity whatsoever to get stuck in the stories we tell ourselves; no need to believe our thoughts, our lives…even at Christmas become peaceful and happy.

Lonely in a crowd

Christmas is not only a time when people argue but also when they can also feel very isolated…even if they’re surrounded by people. However stressful it gets for us, we could remember that it must be far harder for people who spend this Christmas alone, for whatever reason. Maybe they have no family or have no family nearby. Perhaps they feel too poorly, mentally or physically to be sociable. Maybe they weren’t invited anywhere or people refused their invitation. Focusing on others, takes our focus away from our own perceived problems to feelings of empathy and gratitude. A wonderful thing to do, to take your attention away from you, at any time of year, is to volunteer in a shelter or hospice, to make or give clothes to the homeless or simply donate money to these causes. A pound or two wouldn’t be missed by most of us but adds up and is really appreciated those who have nothing.

Take yourself off the heat

Just as we turn the gas down or off under our Christmas pans to stop our vegetables and potatoes being ready before our turkey or nut roast, we can turn our own heat down by taking ourselves away from a potentially anxiety producing situation.

Feeling cooped up and trapped in a situation with people you’re not used to sharing a lot of time with, feeling hot and bothered by the oven continually being opened and checked on, flustered by the squabbles and noise, reminders of old family rivalries….it’s easy to see why we think it can make us feel stressed…but that doesn’t alter the truth that nothing and no one can ever hurt us, unless we let them.

In the days before I understood that I had control over my emotions, I remember one terrible Christmas day when my husband and I had been arguing for several days and had to pretend in front of the whole family that we were fine…it wasn’t the first event I’d ruined, but I made sure it was the last. I am eternally grateful that I now know I never, ever have to endure another day like that.

There is no difference between you and me, we’re both doing our best with what we have…If I have learned to be happy and peaceful….I know you can too…I can help you.

The olden days

In those old, unenlightened days, I always had to have the last word in every argument because it was vitally important to me that I was understood; and if my side of the quarrel (obviously the right side!) wasn’t agreed with I couldn’t let it go. At the very least, my antagonist (always my husband – anyone else would have walked away years ago) had to be sensitive enough to know how strongly I felt and give me sympathy. I really did think I was the centre of the universe, didn’t I?!

I would go on and on and on, all day if necessary. Late at night, my long suffering husband would practically beg me to stop and let him sleep. The two men I’d previously had serious relationships with had both always stayed awake till they had apologised enough for me to feel okay again and be ready to sleep…however tired they were, which of us had started the argument or was in the ‘wrong’. (In those days I didn’t understand that there was no definitive truth and only personal perspectives.) In my reality, if someone was in love with me, they would never knowingly allow me to be sad. I didn’t understand or care that, in my husband’s reality, if someone was in love with him, they would let him sleep.

When the poor man absolutely refused to listen to me any more, I’d stay up all night, crying and making notes of all my grievances I ‘needed’ to tell him. In the morning, I would read them out to him. If he refused to listen I would text them to him. It seems ludicrous now but it was very, very real at the time .. and my lovely husband and I nearly split up several times.

If I still believed there was any use in being affected by things I couldn’t change, I’d be terribly embarrassed by this story and be unable to share it. I’m glad that I can admit it…. and help others let go of their unhealthy thinking too. I told this cringey tale to my meetup group and most of the men nodded wearily as the women laughed out loud….because they had done exactly the same thing! The title comment was funny…because it had been our reality…and now we knew better.

We never have to believe the stories we tell ourselves, we can always, always avoid choosing fear over love.

Do you want to be right or happy?

Next week I’ll be talking about ego. Until then, have a wonderfully peaceful week and please let me know if you have any questions or comments or would like me to help you on a one-one basis.

Catherine x

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