Relating with Peace for the Holidays

By Jorge Barrios on Wikimedia

CPS Challenge reminder:  Through the holiday season the challenge is to keep up with meditating/chanting/praying for peace at least once a week.

Sindy over at Blue Butterflies and Me set up a 12 Days of Christmas series, asking fellow bloggers to each make a post for one of the twelve days on topics like peace, love and gratitude.  For several years I’ve been doing posts about learning to cope better with the holiday gatherings that are often stressful.  Generally I’ve re-posted each year and added a new one.  This time I thought I’d just summarize the basic ideas with links to the original posts.  And to mention that my new bookRelating Heart to Heart:  A Guide to Playing Well with Others, expands on these ideas.

First, get in touch with yourself.  A huge proportion of the problems any of us have with others stem from our own unresolved issues and beliefs. The more you know about those issues and how you react because of them, the more you can choose to let go of those issues and react differently.

Second, know who people are and what they do.  People are always going to be themselves.  The biggest reason we’re ever disappointed by others is that we expect them to be someone else, behave in some way that would suit us better but that is out of character for them.  If you know who someone is and how that person behaves you won’t be disappointed because you will know exactly what to expect and what they will and won’t do.

Third, don’t take anything your friends and loved ones say personally.  Ninety-nine point nine percent of what others say and do has everything to do with them and whatever is going on in their minds and has nothing to do with you.  They often mean something other than what you think and however mean or ill-willed they may seem it generally arises from their own hurts and sore spots and is not about you.  Step back and let it move around you without impacting you.

Fourth, figure out whether you recognize love the way other people offer it.  Most of us have some set expectations of what words say “I love you” and what actions mean love to us.  But our loved ones usually have their own way of saying and doing and it frequently does not match those expectations.  If you learn how they offer it instead of looking for it the way you want it, you may discover that you can feel the love billowing around you.

Fifth, after you’ve figured out who they are and how they love, can you love them anyway?  In other words, can you set aside your wishes and expectations for something different and love the actual person in front of you?  I think most of the time when you step back and really look you’ll find it easy.  Occasionally you’ll discover that you can’t overlook some behaviors or live with who someone is and then you have some decisions to make.

Sixth, work on listening well and offering right speech.

The more you can learn these guidelines and practice them the easier time you’ll have in facing those not-so-easy relationships with which the holidays often confront you.

Yesterday’s post was here.  Tomorrow’s post will be on Barbara’s blog–be sure to check them out.

19 thoughts on “Relating with Peace for the Holidays

  1. Leigh what great and peace filled advice. I will take it with me into the world. Luckily the only person I have to deal with is my lovely, sweet sister, so it doesn’t take any effort.

    Just wanted to say thank you for the post and say what a pleasure it has been knowing you this year, even though we met prior. Your work for peace is so valued.

    Namaste sister~
    ✿ღ✿ღ.¸¸ღ♫*¨`*•..¸ƸӜƷ ✿ღ ✫❀

  2. Beautifully written and a wisdom of the ages Leigh. Easily understood and really expresses some things, that seem so complicated, in a very understandable way. Should be taught in schools. Mmm, now there’s an idea, it may be the change the new era requires. Thank you for sharing some lovely, enlightened and wise words. Namaste

    • Yes, I’ve often said it’s kind of weird that we don’t teach anything about how to have good relationships — the thing that’s most important of all to most of us… Thanks so much!

  3. Easier said then done hehe. But very valuable advice! I especially like your third one, it’s so true. I often noticed that when I feel upset about something somebody says and talk it through with them,I realize it really is my own interpretation of it that upsets me and not at all what they are actually saying 🙂
    Hope you will enjoy this holiday season for all that’s good and intense about it, much love xox

  4. I have several thoughts as I read this wonderful post. First, it seems to be that it is more important than ever that we learn to be adept at right listening and right speech. The powers that be do not wish us to see that we are all one expression of the same creator. They function much better when we are putting our attention on how we are different and when we are being whipped up into anger and fear. I guess there is not way to say that and be practicing right speech. I went back to your links on the subject and read your very powerful posts and was reminded of your class and how struck I was by how far I was from the awareness of what came out of my mouth. As the years went by I spent less time practicing it and did not put my attention on it and so did not practice it. While I may not have realized why, I did know when my words did not feel right or I was uneasy in a conversation. Recently my guides have been speaking to me of integrity and where I might improve upon my own. Words are so powerful. They carry the energy of intent or the lack of awareness of the other’s needs or the emotion of buried wounds. I am currently studying with James O’Dea’s Peace Ambassador Training Program and reading his powerful book Cultivating Peace. Being effective in bringing peace out of conflict requires that one find the peace in themselves and then hold that in a conflict and that requires a complete respect for all parties, an understanding that we are all one expression of the same humanity. I believe that you have explained the procedures for right speech and right listening even more clearly than O’Dea and I am grateful that I have read this post at this time. Recently I have been practicing injecting right speech into FB threads that have taken a contentious and divisive tone and I am surprised at the positive responses I receive even from those who are angry and righteous. I would recommend that practice to others. Since one is in written conversation there is time to consider all that you have suggested in your descriptions here.

    To speak to ways of showing love, I read The 5 Love Languages book years ago when my husband and I were struggling to find a fulfilling relationship. What each of us learned was that we were showing love the way we wished to receive it and when the other did not show love in that same way we did not realize that we were being loved. Once we realized that he shows love with action and I show love with words and through physical touch, we began to see how loved we really were. Now I know that when I cook a special meal or complete one of his chore’s before he has a chance to do so, I am showing love. And he knows that if I am in need of special support that he can hold me and tell me what I am doing right. He offers fewer suggestions on how to improve myself (which I always found more of a judgment than a help) and I cook our meals without the resentment I had before because now I see them as the act of love that he wanted them to be. Thank you, Leigh, for bringing all of this to my attention once again.

    • That training you’re in sounds great — every time you mention it I think I should look into it.. I’ll get to it. I do think the communication piece is key — I’m so thankful for Gay’s wonderful teaching. She’s the one who really broke it down to basic components so I mostly just hone ideas that are hers. I’d love to get her to come back to do right speech here again.
      I’ve not read the Love Languages but since two of you have now mentioned it i’m thinking I should look for it! Sounds like advice that dovetails nicely with this piece that I teach based on a little story from Angeles Arrien.
      As always, thanks for the kind comments — always MUCH appreciated!

  5. I really enjoyed this post and it can also be useful whenever you have to deal with challenging people, family, coworkers, customer service folks, etc. The part about one’s love style reminds me of the book about the Love Languages. Have you read it?

    thank you for this great summary.



    • Yes, I think it’s advice for all times but I gather lots of people feel the need for it particularly at the holidays. My difficult relative is dead so I no longer face that tension but I sure empathize with those who still have to sit at the table with people who are tough to deal with.

  6. Leigh, it’s a great time of year to read this advice, thanks for sharing it! Hope your holiday is full of people and activities that make it easy to feel love and peace! 🙂

  7. Such a well thought out post of good advice, I went on a course on Thursday for Borderline Personality Disorders and if I really stopped to think about people I had met over the years I could perhaps put them well into this category.. You are so correct when you say what most people say which can be taken the wrong way is all often about themselves… What interested me most about this course and the subject matter what that our personalties can be formed early on from babies and the crucial years up to 18-months old can have great impact upon our abilities to relate more rationally, if during those early months one was traumatised or felt the lack of security or being loved..

    Listening Skills has to come to the top of my list, and how we react and respond verbally to others especially in keeping peaceful situations that I have to deal with on a daily basis through my daily work as a support worker.

    Thank you Leigh for your words of wisdom.. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas with family and friends and all the best with your book and well wishes for a Peaceful 2014

    • Thanks so much. That course sounds interesting. I’ve pondered the personality disorder issue a lot and I too feel that I’ve known a number of people whose hard-to-take behaviors were probably explained by some level of pd. Happy holidays to you!

  8. Pingback: 12 Days of Christmas Prompt: Memories | The Heartsongs Blog

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