This Holiday Season: 3 Gifts to Give Yourself (and Those You Love)
Heading into the Holidays, your love life may be feeling like Fifty Shades of Blah-Blah-Blah. A truly transformational gift – to your self and others – is Frank Natale’s book Relationships for Life. “In seeking these qualities,” Natale writes. “You will gain an opportunity for greater awareness of your self, which is the highest achievement any of us can accomplish at any given moment.”
When we approach our relationships with a conscious, loving mindset we tend to pause and think before we speak. Given family dynamics, the holidays are frequently stuffed with unrealistic expectations and smoldering sibling rivalries. Being thoughtful and responsive avoids a lot of headaches especially when the eggnog is flowing and aunt Trudy presents you with another spiced rum fruitcake.
Here are brief excerpts from three of Natale’s twenty qualities to help you navigate through the Holidays and beyond.
1. Being Responsible
Mature, conscious love creates the permission to be your self. When you love others on that level you are honest with them. What you are more likely to see in our society is dependent, unconscious love, which demands dishonesty and self-denial. However well intentioned we believe ourselves to be, we generally experience difficulty keeping our agreements. This breakdown occurs because we usually have been required to agree unconsciously to too many people, therefore:
Lighten up your agreements; Create agreement only on those issues that are essential to the survival of your relationships; And, in any one relationship, never exceed three survival agreements.
When we are responsible to each other in our relationships we create freedom, support and fun. These are the benefits that come naturally from the experience of keeping one’s agreements.
1. The Choice to Think
During the course of our lives our thoughts determine our relationships. As children we think creatively. In a gradual process by adulthood we go from creative thinking to defensive thinking. We stop making choices and make only one choice: the choice to survive. The choice to survive usually occurs at an early age when we are criticized for not effectively handling our environment. We begin to have thoughts about “not being good enough” or “being wrong.” The list of such thoughts is long and you can add many of your own to this list. After a series of these thoughts we stumble into the choice not to think. Instead of finding life through conscious thought we create behavior patterns to avoid life.
We can reclaim our power and we can choose to think. Those who make this choice see more clearly than others who spend their entire lives avoiding loss and discomfort. The choice to think is the choice to live. It is what makes our species unique. The decision to avoid thinking is a commitment to disorder, death and disease. To avoid is to decide to be an extra in someone else’s life and to think someone else's thoughts.
When we are not operating from forgiveness, we are not the person we are capable of being. When we move past our tendencies toward judgment and resentment we are able to achieve a genuinely alive experience of our relationships. The initial discomfort we experience in clearing our brain of resentment becomes worthwhile. It allows us to function at a new level where we experience the ability to talk to anyone. With this new clarity we are able to be with anyone without form, mannerisms or judgmental behavior determining our self-confidence or aliveness.
When we are operating from forgiveness it does not matter if people are black or white, male or female, young or old, Arab or Jew, gay or straight. We are beyond that at will and by choice.
Forgiving your parents is the most important process of forgiveness to complete. Becoming consciously forgiving toward your parents frees you to become you. It does not matter if they are alive or dead. In fact, if your parents are dead, the process is easier. They are no longer capable of hurting you and therefore completion should be easier. But regardless of their aliveness or proximity, forgiving your parents is essential to your aliveness. Forgiveness creates the immediate experience of happiness, joy and relief.
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