We soon will be celebrating the holidays with a day full of gratitude and good cheer.
What a powerful concept: family and friends everywhere taking an entire day out to focus on being grateful, appreciating each other, being thankful for what we have and who we are!
“Excuse me,” I hear the cynics out there saying, “What Hallmark card did you just step out of?” OK, I understand that being with family does not always conjure up images of love and appreciation for people. And even if you are one of the lucky ones where it does, the holiday season can be one of the most stressful of times for even the best of people.
So in the midst of the holidays and family gatherings it seems like an appropriate time to talk about the powerful concept of Allowing. Although it is a concept that can be applied to many areas of life, I will use the example of family since it ‘tis the season for more family contact than usual and because our families can sometimes be one of our most challenging areas to apply the skill of allowing. In fact, I’d say if you can do it there, you could do it ANYWHERE.
So what is Allowing? It’s the simple concept of allowing people to be exactly who they are. So, big deal, you say? Let me put this in a different way that might begin to show the real challenge here:
It’s completely removing our own agenda that we have overlaid on a person and seeing them for who they are—then allowing them to be just that for now.
This is easier said than done, for the closer we are to people the more agendas and expectations we have for them! After all, we love them! We have very strong emotions and opinions about what they should and shouldn’t do with their life, who they should be with, how they should act, what they should eat, wear, say, etc.
Our agendas, opinions, expectations and judgments are like walls that block us from fully allowing others to be who they are right now. These walls also keep us from being able to appreciate or be grateful. You know that Uncle Bob shouldn’t drink so much, and Janet should lose weight instead of having a second helping of potatoes and gravy, let alone Jack who is having that cholesterol laden piece of cheesecake even though he has had bypass surgery twice. And, of course, Sally and Jim don’t discipline their kids at all, Mary has such a big mouth and never let’s anyone else talk, and … Are you getting the idea of why this concept is so hard?
So what would it be like to just let go of all of it and really accept that this is who they are, today, right now and allow them to just be who they are? What if you just fully accepted them in the moment? (Pause here and take this in for just a minute).
Many of you have a big alarm going off in your head right now—the judgment police won’t let you be! Remember, you don’t have to AGREE with them or what they are doing and you certainly don’t have to like it, and you definitely can set boundaries around what you will and won’t do, but you also aren’t responsible for fixing it all the time either.
So let’s explore what the MAGIC is in Allowing:
- First, if you feel uneasy around this concept, know that is normal. The need to feel in control or like you are “doing the right thing” is common. But the fact is, people are who they are right now, like it or not. You may strongly feel it is your role to “set them straight”, but people make changes faster and easier when they are feeling fully accepted for who they are right now. Reverse it and think about how you feel when you feel fully accepted.
- Second, it creates so much less stress for you. When you can let go and allow you become much more centered and relaxed in who you are.
- Third and most importantly, this where you truly find the real magic: Accepting others automatically allows you to accept who you are in this moment. It is a big side benefit. It opens the door for gratitude and appreciation! It may require one more step to actually look for what you can appreciate in people, but it’s a step so worth the effort.
My Holiday Challenge To You:
I would like you to join me in putting out an “Appreciation Intention” as a way for all of us to truly celebrate the meaning of this time of year. What if each of us spent the ENTIRE day focusing on what we could truly appreciate in others (and ourselves)?
What if we just allowed their (and our) faults to be and at the same time shone a big bright light on all their (our) good parts for the entire day — with no expectation or condition attached? How would our capacity for gratitude grow? What magic might we be able to create? Group intention is powerful. I think we can change the world — one intention at a time!