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Conscious Christmas – celebrating our traditions, recognising our patterns

by Sarah Carter

21/12/2017

Conscious Christmas – celebrating our traditions, recognising our patternsIt’s that time of the year when many of us, if we’re lucky, look forward to spending some quality time with our loved ones. Expectations are high as we try to create a few days of the year that are packed full of special memories; when we look forward to family rituals, steeped in tradition.

Children are a constant reminder: “It’s the weekend we normally put the tree up!” “When are we going to bake our Christmas biscuits?” “Do we really have to watch the Queen’s speech?”

And, of course, there’s that special moment when it’s time to decorate the tree. This year my own children set a challenge – the seemingly impossible: “Let’s see if we can decorate the tree and all still be speaking by the end of it!”

Well, for the first time in a few years, I’m proud to say we were. Result! Admittedly I had to bite my tongue, calm down my (not all that) inner control-freak, laugh with seeming indifference as the third glass bauble lay in shatters on the floor and ignore the fact that my least favourite decoration had a very prominent position on the front, middle branch. But – whatever - we were still speaking. A perfect family moment.

In the same way that there are traditions around what we do, how we prepare, how we spend our time, so too there are ‘traditions’ or ‘patterns’ in our behaviours and in our ways of responding to those around us. And these patterns can be really magnified at Christmas with the added pressure we may feel around making everything just so.
So here’s a challenge for the festive period. Take time to reflect on your patterns of behaviour and your relationships. Don’t try to change those patterns – it’s enough initially just to recognise them.

Ask yourself just three simple questions:

  • How did I listen?
  • How did I respond?
  • What did I notice about myself that in the next year I’m going to be more aware of?
It may seem like a small thing to do but with awareness everything has the potential to change. If we begin to recognise our patterns, we then start to become more aware of what we need to do more or less of. And once we take the next step and commit to change, this eventually impacts on our outcomes and results. By asking these three questions we can go into the New Year understanding ourselves that little bit more and perhaps begin to set some intentions around that.

So when it comes to next Christmas and my family are all gathered round to decorate the tree, I have two options: learn from my previous patterns of behaviour and responses, recognise them, seek to change them – or, perhaps the easier but not as rewarding alternative, purchase a box or two of shatterproof baubles.

Sarah has 25 years’ experience of developing communications & learning for some of the world’s biggest brands.

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