By Personal Growth Counseling| December 7th, 2015

At Christmastime, almost everyone is more likely to be reunited with family members and friends that we do not see very often. Some of these people may carry painful memories for you, and you may fear and/or dread seeing them. It is possible that you may choose to avoid events that might be fun and rewarding in order to avoid certain people that may be toxic for you.

I want you to be emotionally and mentally strong, so you do not miss any of the joy of the season. I will suggest ways to keep you strong emotionally by appearing mentally strong. You can work on keeping yourself physically strong by getting enough rest and sleep, eating healthy, and having sufficient downtime to maintain your peace and calm nature. It is also helpful to remember that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, and it is not necessary to overwhelm your budget.

Here is a list of ways to “Put your best foot forward and stay mentally alert and emotionally strong.”

1. Express gratitude at every opportunity. Train your brain to have an attitude of gratitude. (Focus on things you do have and not the things you don’t have). Be thankful—

  • For seeing the people you love and care about, their accomplishments and successes as well as your own.
  • For the efforts of those who entertain you, preparing great food, music, gifts, etc.
  • For your health and the ability to be present.

2. Keep your power. Never say that someone makes you feel angry, sad, confused etc. You are the owner of your feelings, and they are never wrong. We have emotions to tell us when we need to do something. Allow yourself to feel what you feel and evaluate the reasons for it. Sometimes there is nothing that needs to be done because it is in the past and already done. Remember—how people treat you is always about them and never about you. Determine to be the owner of your feelings and do not give others the power to bring you down.

3. Embrace Change. The only thing that is for certain in life is change. Learning to recognize when you avoid change because of the discomfort involved in doing something new can be the first step to improving your life. Although you might feel safer in your “comfort zone,” staying there might be the biggest obstacle to significantly improving your life. Think about the change, weigh the pros as well as the cons. This change might just be a stepping stone to recreating your life and offering just the opportunities you need to feel more successful.

4. Avoid wasting energy on things beyond your control. Focus on what you can do and do it. Write a letter to the editor, can your congress person, find some way to address your concerns and then do not waste your time and energy on the things you cannot change. My favorite quotation from Cher is “The only thing I can change is me, but when I change me, that changes everything.” No one wants to hear all your negative remarks about your aches and pains, the state of the world, or whatever else you are negative about. Relax and enjoy the moment! There is no good time or place for your ants (automatic negative thoughts).

5. Be willing to take calculated risks. I am not talking about doing things that endanger your safety, like not wearing a helmet on a motorbike. I am talking about going someplace you have never been, riding on an airplane, changing the way you dress, trying a new dance step, changing jobs, etc. We make choices every day, just do not base those decisions on fear. Investigate the facts, talk to people, research your decisions and then go for it!

6. Be Present. Some people waste way too much time dwelling on the past. Ask yourself, “Can you brush your teeth yesterday?” Of course not, that is ridiculous. But learn what you can from the past and move on. Make peace with the past, live in the present and plan for the future-these are golden words, and they will put you on the road to being fully present to enjoy your life. You will have more success in relationships because you are fully focused on the people in your life NOW.

7. Be who you are, no matter who they are. We are sometimes told not to care what others think, and that is difficult. Of course, we want to be liked and accepted by others. However, sometimes that means over extending ourselves or compromising our beliefs and/or values. This is when it is too much. At the end of the day, we go home and to bed with our self. Therefore, it does not reflect on you if someone is too controlling or demanding. Stick to your values, do what you can do, and do not apologize for making your own needs and wishes your priority.

8. Learn from your mistakes. Learning from our mistakes takes humility and the ability to look at ourselves with total objectivity. Mentally strong people do not hide their mistakes or make excuses. They take responsibility and look for different strategies to use in the pursuit of their goals and objectives. Living an authentic life requires that you acknowledge when something is not working and change it.

9. Try again. One of the most destructive things you can do to yourself is to globalize our failures. When you decide after one or two tries that you cannot do something and give up your goals and objectives, you sabotage yourself. If it is important to you, remember that you have just learned another way that does not work for you and try something else. If you do this enough, you will meet those goals that are important to you.

10. Spend some time with yourself. We need time to think and to reflect on things. We need time to be creative and innovative. Do not let lack of activity be wasted. Get alone, sometimes with your thoughts and dreams. Write down some of your ideas and reflect on them. Being able to spend time alone is an important characteristic of mentally strong people.

11. Remember that the world does not owe you anything. You are blessed to be born and have the opportunity to live in this amazing country and world. Do not allow yourself to feel entitled, commit to making your world a better place. Remembering to do random acts of kindness every day. If you allow yourself to try to take what you deserve, it will never be enough. Think about ways that you can give back, and that is a path for peace and joy.

12. Feed and maintain your faith. Things take time to evolve, learn the art of patience and waiting. Learning to delay gratification while waiting for your goals to develop is a critical step to success in anything. Plant the seed of self-acceptance and self-growth, give it time to develop. Slow and steady wins the race; remember your childhood and the story of the Tortoise and the Hare.

Isn’t it strange?
That princes and kings
And clowns that caper in sawdust rings
And common folks like you and me
Are builders of eternity?
To each is given
A bag of tools and a book of rules
And each must make, and can
His life
A stumbling block or a stepping stone!