I love this time of year with the long dark nights, bright lights and roaring fires.
The shortest day is fast approaching and with it the light will slowly come back but for now its frosty cold and dark.
My energy feels slower, calmer and more reflective despite the Christmas mayhem outside.
Christmas can though be quite stressful - the pressure to purchase, the social engagements, the commitments we make to family and others.
So, each year as the festive period approaches I create an incisive question for myself that helps me navigate this period with ease and a sense joy (rather than dread).
I thought I'd talk you through my thought process so you can come up with your own powerful and liberating question that you can hold close for the next few weeks:
Firstly I try and work out how I want to feel or what I want to do:
I want to end the year feeling grateful, radiant and fully present. I want to enjoy the time I have with my family. I want to go for long runs wrapped up warm. I want to go for gentle walks with a flask of hot chocolate. I want to spend time doing small simple things with the kids that over the years will add up to a memory box full of experiences. I want to end the year refreshed and re-energised.
I then work out from this what I most want:
I want to finish the year feeling grateful and radiant.
What am I assuming that would stop me feeling grateful and radiant?
Simply that I still have loads to do if I want to turn off my work emails for 2 weeks. That I’ll feel compelled to do my annual planning or tie up loose ends whilst it’s quiet; that I’ll feel a last minute urge to get the kids a few more things; that I’m going to need to cook lots and plan ahead more than normal; that I won’t have time to do the things I need and want which allow me to feel radiant; that other people are probably having better/more festive/more meaningful times than I am…
What am I assuming that is most stopping me from feeling grateful and radiant?
I'm assuming I don’t have the energy to do the simple, daily things I need to allow me to feel present and radiant.
Do I think this is true?
Well, it feels true, I’m tired and at Christmas we have less support than during term time so the kids will need me more and there are more social engagements and things to do than normal. But, my husband is around more, there is less work to do and there are in some ways less things to juggle. What I need is not much, I need to make sure I get sleep, have time to go running and do my yoga or meditation each day but these feel like within my control.
So, what could I credibly assume instead in order to feel grateful and radiant?
I could assume that being grateful is a choice I make on a daily basis to look for the joy in the small, simple moments and there will be plenty of those if I stay present and notice them. I could assume that meeting my own needs supports everyone around me & that there is a real joy in my simple, daily practices that allow me to feel nurtured and energised.
So, (and this is in the incisive part of the question)...If I knew that being grateful and radiant is a moment by moment choice to focus on what matters most to me how would I feel?
I'd feel a lot more present and at ease with whatever the next few weeks turn out like; I’d feel excited at the prospect of having two weeks together as a family; I’d feel less focused on what everyone else is doing and more clear on what is most important to me; I’d make sure my needs were clearly communicated so people could also support me & I already feel calmer and more present.
So here are the questions for you to think about:
How do you want to feel/be this Christmas?
What are you assuming that is stopping you from (insert how you want to feel/ do)?
Identify what is most stopping you.
Ask yourself do you think this is true? What are your reasons?
What could you credibly assume instead in order to feel how you want to / do what you want to?
Ask yourself if you knew this (insert your credible alternative) how would you feel/what would you do?
Voila - that is the question you need to memorise or stick on your fridge and live as true. H