Who's up for a different festive experience?

The festive season is a time of contrasting delights and emotions

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Where it’s hard not to get just a little excited by the lights and decorations or be drawn to the energy of a new year, and the chance for new beginnings, there’s the anticipation of spending extended time with family and loved ones – who let’s face it, are the ones we care about most, but are also the very people who know how to press our ‘buttons’.

How to appreciate the festive season

So who’s up for a different experience this year? One of appreciation, enjoyment and gratitude? Sounds cheesy? Well, I don’t think so.

Each year I spend two weeks with my family at Christmas. I would get excited about seeing everybody again and then I would soon find myself feeling annoyed about this or that, about things that were said or not said when we all gathered together. We’d more often than not end up getting a bit edgy or dissatisfied with each other every year!

I now make a conscious effort to think about what I can do to have a more satisfying, positive and enjoyable experience with my family.

How to appreciate the festive season

  1. Let go of expectations I don’t expect anything. I go and remind myself that time spent with my family is precious, that I don’t see them very often, and that my mother and aunt are elderly. This helps me to open up my mind and heart, to relax into what is.
  1. Seek out the pleasurable things When I arrive I look for what is there rather than what’s not there. I appreciate the small things. For example, although it bothers me that my mother hardly ever listens and changes the subject constantly, I love to find my favourite chocolate bar on my pillow the first night of my arrival.
  1. Be bold to have ideas – do something different and inspire others We now go on a walk on Christmas day after lunch (rather than go stir crazy at home). I made the suggestion and everybody was up for it. It only needs one person to have an idea and to share it.
  1. Be curious I have started to be curious rather than collude with my expectation that nobody wants to talk about anything. Now I often ask: How have you been, what’s been happening for you. And listen. It’s different from: How are you? It never gets much of an answer. People love to be asked how they are and get attention.
  1. Experience gratitude for our parents Having lost my father in 2006 and seeing my mother age, I’ve stopped taking her / them for granted. It helps me be more patient with her ways, generous in listening to her and doing things for her, more appreciative of her motherhood, i.e. seeing her care for me (even though it might not be exactly how I want to be cared for).

Let me know how you get on.

Warm wishes, Karen

Karen Liebenguth

Life Coach and Mindfulness Trainer, Green Space Coaching

Karen Liebenguth is an experienced life coach, MBTI facilitator, accredited mindfulness teacher and certified Focusing practitioner. She offers coaching while walking in London’s parks and green space tapping into the benefits nature has on our psychological, emotional and physical well-being. She believes that it is in nature where reflection, insight and change can happen most naturally. Karen helps people deal better with stress and anxiety, find direction, feel more in charge of and confident about their life so that they can make long-lasting change and spend more time doing what most matters to them. Karen offers 1:1 mindfulness training as well as tailored mindfulness workshops and courses for the workplace to help staff better deal with stress and anxiety and to boost wellbeing. She uses Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Mindful Coaching, the Natural Learning Cycle, Compassionate Communication and Focusing. She is a member of the Association for Coaching, an accredited mindfulness teacher with BreathworksMindfulness.org and a qualified Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) facilitator.