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Happy Holidays

Let Me Help You Get Through The Holiday Season.

I developed a three part method which I call “FAB’ which stands for Feelings – Attitude – Behavior.

Handling difficult issues involves having the right attitude, being in the right mood, and engaging in the right behavior.

Before I go into detail about “FAB”, I want to emphasize that if you are having severe personal problems in your life, or with your partner, or family, you will need help in applying the strategies that I’m going to show you.  It can help a little bit, but to make these techniques work in very troubled situations, you may need counseling. Having said that, here we go………………….

First Step

The First Step – Attitude

Let’s take a look at your attitude, by this I mean what are the conversations going on in your head like?

Do you make everything do or die?  Are you telling yourself “I’ll never get this done”, Or do you say to yourself “This is too much for me”; or “I can’t do this”.

The first step is listening to what you are telling yourself.

Think about what you could answer yourself.

Some examples that answer the above sentences would be:

“I’ll do the best I can.”; “I don’t have to be perfect”. “This (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) is only one day. “I’ll do a little at a time.”

“Not doing everything isn’t the end of the world”

Notice the story you are telling yourself in your head.  Does the story have a happy ending or a catastrophic one?

If you can’t win the conversation battle in your head you won’t win it in the outside world.

Second Step

The Second Step – Feelings (your mood)

Ask yourself if you are: frantic, self judgmental, angry, upset, or frustrated.

The goal here is to get yourself in the right frame of mind, getting yourself to feel good about your efforts, calm yourself down, and to be optimistic about how things are going to work out.

You will enjoy your holiday a lot more if you can get yourself in the right frame of mind.

Techniques to help your mood:

1)    Mindfulness:

Begin by noticing how you are feeling. Ask yourself: “Am I speeding?”; “Am I having negative conversations in my head?” If you are speeding make a deliberate effort to slow yourself down; if you are have a negative conversation work on developing positive self talk or affirmations


This strategy isn’t for everyone.  If you are a skeptic or want to see proof that something will be successful, you will not be impressed with this approach.  For those of you that will take things on good faith this is for you.

Find something that is positive to say to your self about the holidays and on a regular basis repeat it to yourself, for example – “This is going to be a great holiday” or “I can’t wait to sit down to dinner with ….”

The people who believe in affirmations say that your brain and attitude is like a computer, so if you put positive things in you will get positive things out.  You decide if this makes sense to you.

(2)      Stop for a few minutes out to take some deep breaths and slow your body down.

(3)   Do something just for you.

(4)  Promise yourself a reward if you complete a task.

(5)  Think about a positive outcome of the task you would like.


The Third Step – Behavior (action)

Strategy #1 Plan With Your Partner

Example of situation: You are concerned about visiting in-laws

Behavior: Plan with your partner

If you are worried about your parents or in-laws talk things over with your partner.  Anticipate possible problems and come up with a game plan.

Plan how you are you going to handle things if there is a problem.

Tip: Whenever possible, each person should take the lead in handling problems in their own family, For example, if there are in-law problems, ask your partner to run interference for you with their side of the family.

Strategy #2 Re-evaluate Traditions

Example of a situation: You have too much to do.

Behavior: Evaluate the traditions you are trying to arrange and ask yourself if the old traditions are too expensive: emotionally, financially, or in terms of the time necessary to set up or to do something.  Think about the possibility of starting new traditions.

Talk with people you trust and see what you can come up with.

Remember about those conversations in your head and also about getting  yourself in a positive mood.

Strategy #3 Rehearsal

Imagine things working out well in your head.  Go into as much detail as you can regarding the issue you’re concerned about and think about how it will play out with a positive outcome.

Personal note:  I have often used this method and have been surprised about how effective it’s been.

Strategy #4 Mini- Meditations

Example of situation: You have too much to do and are feeling overwhelmed.

Behavior: Take 2 minutes out and sit quietly, listen to soft music, or have a cup of tea.  By just breaking the frantic pace you can improve your state of mind and you may even be more efficient. Remember that sometimes going too fast means making more mistakes

Strategy #5 Dealing With Difficult People

Example of situation: Around the holiday times is when we have to be cordial with some relatives or acquaintances that we find more challenging to be around.

When family functions occur around the holiday we have to spend time with them in the most pleasant ways we can.

A)  Do not try to avoid contact with these people all together or that can start even more problems.

B)   Try and have brief conversations with them at intermittent times, and have someone with you so it can deflect the contact.

C)   After your brief conversations always excuse yourself politely when disengaging and make an excuse for doing so.

You may not have a perfect outcome for your visit, but you will be able limit  the negative results. If you follow these guidelines the issues of the visit will be resolved or at least made bearable.  If you do not handle the situation correctly the fall out you could have by ignoring or speaking to the person improperly will take a long time to be resolved.

I have three ways of defining happiness.

(1) The distance between our positive expectations and our reality.

So to make yourself happy – develop expectations that are realistic and then spend some time thinking about what it will be like when you experience them.

Tip: Be as specific as possible when setting those expectations. For example: Picture yourself having a great meal with people that you love and love you.Think about what the conversation will be and hear the laughter in your head, enjoy the taste of the food and think about how nice it will feel to eat with the special people in your life.

(2) Happiness is enjoying the moment.

When you are doing things to get ready for the holiday, see if you can enjoy the process; as you are running errands in your car listen to music that you like and enjoy having the time on your own to hear or even sing along with the music.

(3) Happiness can be positive anticipation.

Think about the things you are looking forward to and that you enjoy rather than thinking about how rushed you feel.  Notice how much time is spent with the negative thoughts/feelings and how much is spent with positive ones.


On Making All Of This Work

The main variable as to whether any of these ideas will work is your level of motivation to have a happy successful holiday.  There is a big difference between liking the idea and making a big effort to work on it.

Here’s how you can tell the difference, on a scale of 1 – 10 ask yourself:

How motivated am I to change?

Here is what it takes to really change

(1)               Be willing to spend a little time  on a daily basis following the above suggestions

(2)               Have a positive attitude and start from a position that at least some of these ideas can work for you.

Now that you’ve read this “stuff” re-read it and give it a try.

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