Surviving The Festive Season When Sat At The Table With A Bunch Of Monkey Minds!
While the festive season is usually a time to gather friends and family together, spending too much time together can lead to festive fall-outs and a sharing of negative comments. In fact, 3.18pm on Christmas Day is peak time for an argument and two-thirds of people admit they don’t get through the festive season without a squabble.
So, if you want to bring glad tidings and goodwill without the fights, misunderstandings and negativity, how can you make sure that you stay positive? The trick is how to know how to handle the monkey minds of your friends and family and how to train your own monkey mind!
How Not To Rise To Negative Comments
The best way to prepare for the festive season is to lower your expectations. It is best not to assume that this year will be different or that you and your family will be happy just because you are together. Try to go into the situation without dread but without hope either. By having no expectations, you will not be disappointed.
Be ready for the monkey minds
It can be hard if family members are always criticising your outfit, weight, lifestyle choice or career. In fact, I bet you already know exactly what they’ll criticise before they even arrive. However, the fact you know what family members are going to say before they say it shows that they have a trained monkey mind. Negative comments from family members are a conditioned response, they operate like trained monkeys and pass comments without thinking.
A negative comment may feel like a personal attack, however, it’s likely your family don’t even realise they are insulting you. Your family are probably not aware of what they are saying and may not realise they are being hurtful.
When people are put in a routine situation, such as at the Christmas dinner table, they tend to act in a certain way and will often have the same standard responses. Every person has a conditioned response depending on their local environment (such as returning back to their childhood home or surrounded by their wider family) because the things people say or do becomes a habit that they are used to, whether that’s criticising someone of getting upset by someone’s reactions.
If possible, it is best not to take any negativity to heart. Instead, try to brush it off as their monkey mind and force of habit and that they’re speaking without thinking. The fact that you have this awareness shows that you are more insightful than them.
Train your monkey mind
As well as being aware of other people’s monkey minds, it is important to train your own monkey mind. Instead of having the same reaction every time your family members say something to upset you, learn how to control this reaction. It is completely normal for you to keep reacting, in the same way, every time a family member says something that offends you at the Christmas dinner table.
Remember, getting upset is your same habituated response to their same old habituated comment.
You don’t have to continue having the same habitual response though. Simply train your monkey mind not to react in its usual way.
Vipassana for insight
Vipassana meditation is an excellent method that can help make sure you do not rise to any negative comments and let them go. Instead of giving a conditioned response, Vipassana can help you to take a new approach, by not letting negativity control your reaction.
Unlike other forms of meditation where you concentrate on something else, such as your breathing or a candle, Vipassana is described as ‘insight’ meditation. Start by sitting somewhere quietly and comfortably and letting thoughts arrive in your mind. As each thought comes, let yourself feel the emotion of that thought and then bring yourself back to your centre. This form of meditations forces you to address your feelings and thoughts rather than avoiding them. Then you are able to let them go without building up resentment.
With practice, Vipassana meditation can help you to build compassion. You begin to realise that people do not know what they’re thinking or saying (trained monkey syndrome) and you are building up more insight than others. With Vipassana, you can start to train your monkey mind and ensure that you don’t follow suit with a predictable reaction when someone says their usual negative comment.
Have some me-time
You may feel like you are trapped over the festive season, but it is important to have some time to yourself too, even if it is just feigning an early night or going out for a walk on your own. Make sure to give yourself some breathing space, so that you can do some of the things that you enjoy.
If you are the host, then make sure to take care of yourself to lower your stress levels. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Otherwise, you may build up resentment which can trigger your emotions if you hear or perceive a negative comment.
It is also important to say no to things that you just don’t want to do. It can be hard to say no to family, such as turning down an invite to the traditional family dinner. However, if it isn’t making you happy, learn how to politely decline and focus on your happiness for a change.
Finally, address past problems
If there is an issue in the past that you are carrying around which is stopping you from enjoying yourself, then it is time to address it. The best way is to speak to the family member in person to clear the air. However, if you need help to confront a problem before speaking to the individual, then I can help. Through a range of techniques such as meditation and hypnotherapy, I can help you to address any issues that are holding you back and ensure you have the tools to cope with any negativity of stressful family event. Book your free 15-minute consultation by calling 0207 971 7677.