So we are practicing letting go of tension, stress, anxiety. That’s a big one. By the way, that works all year long, not just for the holidays.
Now let’s practice letting go of the demands we place on others.
Half of you just closed this page. I know. It’s okay, you can come back when you feel stronger. Allowing others the freedom to be themselves is a giant step.
One of the biggest Unrealistic Expectations we have for others is expecting them to be like us. We want others to value what we value, to appreciate what we appreciate, to have good taste as defined by…us.
In one scene from the movie When Harry Met Sally+, a character quips, “I’m just trying to help you have good taste. Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but we can’t all possibly have good taste…”
Step back for a moment and pay attention to what you consider important or valuable. The countless things we appreciate and enjoy, or dislike and disagree with are often so engrained, we don’t recognize them. Our culture has become intertwined with our identity.
If you grew up thinking decent human beings put their carts into bins in the parking lot, like I did, it’s easy to expect that of others.
I had a personal list of what made someone a “Good Citizen.” Of course, I built that list around my values. I made sure I could meet the requirements, and then held it up for all to follow. I used this list to evaluate others. Sounds awful, doesn’t it?
Of course life is more complex than putting a shopping cart into a bin. It serves simply as one example of a value that became part of my culture, and then became a demand I placed on others.
We are going to encounter others at holiday office parties, while putting our carts away at Target, and of course, at family dinners, with a completely different grid for life, different likes and dislikes, different needs, preferences, and all the rest.
We’ve been given an opportunity to learn from them. This is a chance for us to show respect for their “culture.” It is completely normal and healthy to have different preferences.
Someone disliking one of your favorite things in life is not a personal flaw. It’s a personal preference.
We so enjoy (fill in the blank) we can easily believe others who don’t value (fill in the blank) are brainless, difficult to be around, beneath us, etc.
We can fall into a spectator mindset when we’re around people different from us, and sometimes we’re using our checklist to evaluate them, rather than engage them, learn from them, and enjoy them.
This holiday, become a novice social anthropologist*. Focus on learning about the culture around you. It might be helpful to practice inquisitive and gracious questions and answers ahead of time. If you find yourself at a dead end in the conversation, you can always use the tried and true: “Seen any good movies/read any good books lately?”
Remember, you are free to go back to your own culture convinced your ways are the best ways. After all, you do get to choose which culture serves as your home base. You do not, however, get to choose which culture I choose as my home base. Or the lady standing in line next to you. Or your mother.
Allow others the freedom to choose and enjoy their culture. I think that one’s worth a repeat: Allow others the freedom to choose and enjoy their culture.
Consider it a privilege if someone extends an invitation into their culture for a moment. Take a look around, respectfully. Appreciate what you’re served and more importantly, who you’re with.
Take a step back and a deep breath and make a commitment that for this holiday we will embrace the cultural differences, we will practice hospitality whether the host or the guest, and we will quit demanding that others value what we value, not just for the holidays, but for good.
Online Course Available Next Year…
Go Your Way (with Courage & Honesty)
choosing and establishing personal boundaries
releasing the toxic cycle of blame and shame
allowing others to be themselves
choosing realistic expectations
Learn to walk in and out of difficult work, relationship, and family cultures debris-free! See you then!
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The complete article, “this is the year you (finally) enjoy the holidays” is available as a pdf here.