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By Melissa Ford
During the holidays there's party planning, decorating, card writing, gift purchasing, cookie baking, list-making and celebrating. There's also muttering to myself that no one helps and I'm stuck doing everything. (Yes, I seem to think that conjuring up dark thoughts will make the holidays brighter.) Finally, when the multitude of negative emotions crescendos, I take a moment to slow down, wondering why the holidays are such a struggle?!
Actually, the holidays have nothing to do with my bad moods; I've simply forgotten I'm playing the I HAVE NO CHOICE game.
The game can be played anywhere, anytime by following these simple rules:
- Undertake anything (it doesn't have to be holiday related; you can play this game 365 days of the year) such as cooking, carpooling, buying groceries, doing laundry or picking up dirty dishes.
- Tell yourself that you "have to," "need to," "must," or "should" do this particular thing.
- Experience the negative emotions that flow from believing that you have no choice; you have to do these things. Think anger, overwhelm, frustration then mix in some of your favorite holiday sentiments such as resentment or feeling unappreciated.
I've played this game intermittently for years - unaware of my participation - until I'd sense the mounting resentment or catch myself uttering those four magical words: I have to drive the kids to school; I need to grocery shop; I really should clean the house; I must run those errands!
Sound familiar? If you're tired of the emotional consequences consider playing a new game called - I ALWAYS HAVE A CHOICE.
In my parent coaching practice, I work with many moms and dads who are unaware that their anger, exhaustion, and powerlessness isn't the result of some external situation; it's because they have stripped themselves of choice, which always gives rise to the inability to feel good.
When I propose the idea to parents that they are always doing what they want, the responses usually aren't positive. "What do you mean, I'm doing what I want?!" they exclaim. "That's not true! You think I like sitting at the kitchen table every night trying to make my kid finish his homework?"
When we choose to do something we do it because we want to regardless of whether or not we find it enjoyable.
There were many times when I'd get up in the middle of the night to take care of a child, knowing full well I didn't like the fact it was 3 a.m. Knowing that I was choosing to get up because I wanted to, allowed me to lovingly interact with my child. Coming from this perspective, I could feel better, things were easier and I wasn't a victim of the world around me.
Choice allowed me to feel good.
As you transition into the new year resolve to consciously exercise your power of choice. It's a guaranteed way to make your new year brighter!
Wishing you and your family a Happy New Year!