I’ve noticed, over the past three Holiday Seasons, a number of pervasive traditions that seem to control, on auto-pilot, most peoples’ lives. Okay, David, what does pervasive mean? It means something, in this case, a tradition, that is practiced by a vast majority of people. While you and I are at it, I define tradition as a pattern of socialized, accepted behavior that is practiced in groups. Okay, what kind of groups? Traditions are practiced by as few as two people and as many as an entire culture.

What I am going to expose is how these pervasive Holiday traditions, and all that auto-pilot living that goes with them, are so entrenched in your life that you may be hurting the people you say you love and cherish most! And then I am going to show you how to pattern interrupt your traditions, so you can stop hurting the people you love, stop feeling doubt, guilt, shame and worry, and start enjoying a much more inclusive, loving and peaceful Holiday Season.  Sound Good?

Why Are You Bashing My Holiday Traditions!

Hey, wait a minute, David! Isn’t life less stressful and more manageable when I have some routines and set ways of doing things? Like, I personally love and find comfort in all the old Christmas songs, caroling, my Christmas tree, and all my decorations, “The Night Before Christmas”, eggnog, all my favorite Christmas treats, and goodies, and my favorite Christmas meal menu, etc., etc., fill in your favorites that you just Refuse to part with here _________________.  Yea sure, all that stuff can bring some comfort and peace, if that is your thing. My point is this. The degree to which you absolutely insist on having all of your stuff, and doings and goings on all laid out in perfect order, the more likely it is that you are causing someone else, probably someone you say you love, a lot of pain, suffering, and misery.  That’s right! The more rigid you are in your traditions, more likely it is that someone you love is being seriously triggered; experiencing unimaginable doubt, guilt, shame, worry, and fear, because of some traumatic event that they never told you about. See, my friend, everyone knows how much you adore all your Christmas traditions, and they sure as hell don’t want anyone calling them a “Scrouge”. So, those traumatized survivors of Christmas horrors past will either just “suck it up” or they will make your Holidays a living hell… or both! Tell me, how is that working?

“Well, David, that’s just how it is. We can’t Change it. Those poor people are just going to have to get over it!” Bullshit! We CAN change it! But, it will require each of us to see our socialized patterns of behavior from a broader perspective. We are going to have to shine some love, compassion, and grace upon ourselves because we’ve been acting like the “sheeple” They say we are. We are also going to have to bring that same love, compassion, and grace into some potentially uncomfortable conversations with the people we love when we ask them how they really feel about our Holiday traditions.  Yes! You’re right. It’s not your fault. And it’s not their fault either. I’m sure if you knew just how much pain and suffering all those wonderful Holiday traditions were causing your loved ones, you would have chosen some different stuff, and doings and goings on, right?

How to Pattern Interrupt Your Auto-Pilot Holiday Traditions 

Ready for a step-by-step how-to guide? Here is how to pattern interrupt your auto-pilot, Holiday traditions….

Step One: Before diving into change, make a choice now to allow yourself to explore, rather than judge, condemn, analyze, or criticize your past, unintentionally hurtful, auto-pilot, actions, and thoughts.

Step Two: Allow yourself to be forgiven, because you knew not what you were contributing to. It’s okay, we’ve all done it. So, forgive yourself and prepare for doing it differently.

Step Three: Rethink your traditions and plan them out with all of your loved ones in mind. Consider, why is he or she a “Scrouge”. Don’t know? ASK! And, get ready to learn and receive some life-altering, and potentially relationship improving, information.

Step Four: Set up traditions that are flexible and open to new inclusion, expansion, and sometimes contraction, as those you love change, grow and sometimes move on.

Holiday traditions can be a wonderful source of security, comfort, and peace when they are well thought out, open to change and supportive of those who really need them the most. In a radically changing world, a good pattern interrupt, liberally applied to some old Holiday traditions, can be the difference between suffering or thriving this Holiday season. Let’s choose to Thriving!