The holidays mean different things to different people. Most love the traditions and time spent with loved ones. Others cringe and wonder how they will make it through. Either way, you will survive!

I had a wise teacher once tell me to, “become the observer.” When we are in observation mode, we are allowed to step out of our emotions and just see what is happening.  Instead of engaging with our emotions, “I can’t believe mom went there again!” becomes, “oh wow. Mom just brought up that incident from 20 years ago. I wonder what is going on with her that she is still reliving those old emotions.”

Do you see the difference?

When we are stuck in our emotions, we take sides, we start to blame or defend, and we get stuck feeling the way we always do.  If we want to change how we feel, we need to start changing how we see the situation.

As the observer, imagine that you’re sitting on the edge of a tennis court (baseball field, pool…it’s your imagination…use whatever sideline you want!). Or imagine you’re in the audience, and you see the play happening.  The actors on stage are replaying the same situation that happens every year at Thanksgiving. However, instead of chomping away on the popcorn thinking about your to-do list, your Higher Self is sitting next to you and whispers, “isn’t that interesting. It sounds like there’s some hurt and heartbreak in that comment.” You pause and see that too. 

The next scene starts to play out, and you realize that the same person is always picking a fight at the dinner table. You see it in real time, and instead of engaging, your Higher Self whispers, “why do you think they are always doing that?”

As the observer, you give yourself permission to make difference choices in the moment.  As the observer, you’re able to see a “normal situation,” through a different lens, and maybe you can show some compassion for that person instead of judgement. If you can’t get to that point, maybe you just decide to let the comment pass and not engage or “take the bait.”

This is a skill that you can exercise through the holiday season. Start with the company party and just see each situation as a way to observe:  what are they doing? What am I doing? How is this situation different than usual? What if I don’t engage the way I usually do? 

Being the observer is a way to diffuse tense situations. It’s a way for us to see how often our old patterns and behaviors show up in our everyday lives. It’s a way for us to see things we thought we “dealt with” come back up to finally clear. Use the holidays as an opportunity to stay centered and master this technique.