Donna Kim-Brand

Avoiding Hairy-Scary Holiday Conflicts (part 1)

You know the experience of your hair ‘standing on end’, especially on your arms or at the back of your neck, when something on some level resonates with you deeply or perhaps frightens you? It’s a signal to pay attention and take those words or that situation seriously. Your follicles get a feeling…and send a signal on a physiological level.

Most of us also know the other reference to hair standing up and spraying out, on your head this time, which usually refers to a crazy person or an intellectual genius like Einstein. The signal sent in this case is one of wildness of the person’s mental state, for better or worse!

While feelings and thoughts are connected, it’s the middle step of interpretation and choice that determines our reaction or behavior. Why does this matter to us? We all know that along with the joy, sharing and love the holidays can provide, they can also bring on extra stress and conflict. So how do you keep your cool and keep your hair in line when provoked or strung out?

First, take a few seconds to pause and breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose. Then slowly exhale through your mouth, which otherwise remains closed! This prevents you from saying anything you may later regret.  Meanwhile, cast a calm eye over the situation or person(s) causing your ire and smile ever-so-slightly, Mona Lisa style. Not only will this keep you from emitting your nastiest ‘stink-eye’, but you’ll be demonstrating personal control over your emotions to prevent escalating the conflict. Funny enough, your lack of reaction can sometimes provoke others to launch into a tirade.

You just keep smiling calmly and breathing slowly – keeling over from hyperventilation rather wrecks your persona of cool- knowing you have the upper hand over those out of control people cooking their own goose. Also, this gives you time to remember that the other person(s) may simply be stressed out and handling it badly. Nothing personal to you…  You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your very act of NOT reacting might be all they need to recover their own cool.

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