We have officially entered the holiday season. Maybe that fact fills you with joy. But, if not, then it likely makes you anxious. After all, the holidays can be filled with negative feelings and complicated family dynamics. That’s why many people search for ways to manage their emotions during the holidays.
If you can just manage your emotions, you might be able to get through that family Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve all alone, right?
More often than not, your emotions stem from the thoughts you choose to focus on. Thus, the way to manage your emotions during the holidays is to manage your attention.
Manage Your Attention
It can seem difficult, if not impossible, to manage thoughts. So, reframe “thought management” to “attention management.” Most of us can change where we put our attention, at least to some extent.
Make a conscious decision to focus on something other than whatever brings up negative emotions. Then, you will find it easier to navigate the holidays and all that comes with them.
Control Your Thoughts
This simple “trick” gets overlooked too often. But numerous quotations remind us to manage our attention. For instance:
Where your attention goes, you go.
What you focus on expands.
What you think about, you bring about.
Too often, such adages are thought too metaphysical or New Age-y. Yet, they provide practical advice no matter what your beliefs.
Attention Regulates Emotions
Consider the advice offered by Daniel Goleman, author of Focus, “Those who focus best are relatively immune to emotional turbulence.” Thus, the key is to learn to focus your attention on something that does not cause emotional turbulence but rather that generates a positive emotion, like happiness, gratitude, or peacefulness.
Tony Robbins, New York Times bestselling author and the nation’s #1 life & business strategist, says, “Your life is controlled by what you focus on.”
Think about that.
His statement means that if, for example, you are focused on how much you dislike your sister, those thoughts control your experience. But suppose your attention is on your gratitude for the fantastic dinner your mother cooked. In that case, your attention is on appreciation, and that controls what you feel and experience. In fact, you might totally forget about your feelings for your sister when focused on gratitude for the food on your plate.
Let’s look at managing your attention from a more psychological angle. According to Judith Orloff, an American board-certified psychiatrist and the author of five books, “Always, emotional freedom involves choosing where you put your attention.” So, manage your attention if you want emotional freedom during the holidays. Focus on things that create positive emotions within you.
Stop Focusing on Negative People, Situations, and Emotions
Here’s the truth: Whatever you focus on grows larger—at least in your experience. As Deepak Chopra explains, “If your attention is attracted to negative thoughts and emotions, then they will grow in your awareness.”
You become more aware of the negative thoughts and emotions as you focus on them. The greater your awareness, the larger they seem, which increases their impact on you.
Manage Your Attention
Thus, the solution is simple: stop focusing on negative thoughts and emotions. Instead, learn to move your attention, and you will experience relief from the negative emotions that come up around the holidays.
So, how do you manage your attention? Easy. Here are three steps.
1. Become aware that you are feeling negative emotions or thinking about something negative (that likely produces negative emotions).
Awareness is key. As soon as you become conscious of where your attention lies, you can move on to the next step.
When you become conscious of how you feel, ask yourself, “What am I thinking about that makes me feel these emotions?” Once you know what you are thinking, you can take the next step.
2. Move your attention to something else that is either neutral or positive.
Simply said, think about something else.
When you move your attention away from that which causes you discomfort or unwanted emotions, you immediately will have an emotional shift. You will feel more positive emotions.
Try looking at something else and really focusing on it. Allow your thoughts to gather around what is in your field of vision.
Stop your mental chatter about always being alone on the holidays or your Dad being too critical. Instead, force yourself to think about how lucky you are to have a few quiet days to read or how grateful you are to spend time with your mom.
3. Acknowledge your new emotional state.
Again, awareness is critical. Therefore, when you become conscious that you feel better and have generated more positive emotions, make a note! Now you have proof that you can change your emotions during the holidays by managing your attention.
Additionally, celebrate your accomplishment. It’s a big deal when you develop the power to generate the desired emotions rather than having your feelings seemly out of your control.
Indeed, you can control your emotions…if you control the thoughts you think. Manage your attention, and you’ll successfully manage your emotions. Then, you can enjoy the holidays no matter what your circumstances.
Do you struggle to manage your emotions during the holidays? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with someone you know or on social media.
Plus, if you would like support learning to focus your attention at will, let’s have a brief chat. Schedule time with me here.. Or join the Inspired Creator Community, where I offer transformational coaching.
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