Tag Archives: Emotion

How to Thrive Emotionally During the Holidays

The holidays are here! Yes, it is the time of the year when we spend increased time with our families—during which we can become stressed out at the mere thought. In fact, many people go into the holiday season wondering how they are going to survive. I was one of those people. Spending time with my family has been great at times and miserable at others. There was a time when I dreaded the holidays and going back to my hometown. However, as I grew in emotional intelligence, I changed my thoughts and began to manage my emotions, which helped me to set clear boundaries and respond instead of react. Nowadays, I tend to thrive during the holidays! So how can you move from surviving to thriving emotionally this holiday season? 

Christmas Sisters by imagerymajestic

image courtesy of imagerymajestic / freedigitalphotos.net

  • Increase the focus on yourself. People will tell you that it is selfish to think about yourself too much, which is true. But it is also unhealthy to not think about yourself enough—because other than God, no one knows your needs better than you. So, if you need time to yourself away from your family, your in-laws, your “different” cousins, or the general craziness, then take it. Let people know in advance that you may need some “alone time” (I call it “Michelle time) and then when you need it, take a walk, take a drive, or find a quiet place to unwind. Also—take a nap (or naps)! Sleep is instrumental in helping you cope better, feel better, and interact better with others. So get a good night’s sleep and take some naps. Remember, no one else will make that time for you, so just do it.
  • Release the burden of others’ emotions. When I need “Michelle time,” sometimes people are supportive and sometimes they are not. I used to get upset because others felt mad/hurt/upset at my need for space. Now, I release that—it is their issue, not mine. Once on vacation when Michelle time was over, I noticed one of my family members acting as if I had purposefully hurt them by taking time for myself. I, however, did not react to that (or respond to it). I ignored it. Now, had I done something wrong, I would have addressed it and apologized. But restoring my soul with much-needed alone time does not qualify as wrongdoing, so I released the issue and acted normally—and eventually, that family member did too.
  • Pray. Pray. Pray. Few things have gotten me through the insanity of family gatherings like prayer. I have noticed that when I pray for my family members, I am the one who changes. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” If you are anxious about this holiday season, cast your emotions onto God in prayer! He hears you, and He will answer because He loves you. How do I know? Because my responses are more grace-filled, I am more receptive to others, and my emotions are more balanced—because of God’s grace and mercy in answer to my prayers.

Remember: it starts in your mind with your emotions! Take some steps this season to move from surviving to thriving emotionally—and learn to enjoy the holidays with your family!

What are some ways you have learned to thrive emotionally during the holidays? 

Enforcing Boundaries

DO NOT CROSS by artur84

image courtesty of artur84 / freedigitalphotos.net

Jennie’s mom calls her seven or eight times a day. One time while dining with Jennie’s mom, she made a point to call Jennie just to say, “We just finished dinner, and now we’re going to eat dessert. It went well and they liked my shrimp.” Because Jennie is one of my dearest friends, I knew she was frustrated. (Even I was annoyed by it!) Jennie often vents about how her mother’s life revolves around her and her family and how she wishes her mother had a life outside of her. I listen, knowing what the problem is: Jennie has not set clear, firm boundaries with her mother.

Boundaries are limitations that we place in our lives to help us meet our own needs, maximize our strengths, and minimize our weaknesses. Boundaries can help protect us emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally by regulating any circumstances that would not support our personal growth. For example, Jennie’s mother has not grown emotionally or mentally because Jennie has allowed her mother to depend on her too much. In addition, Jennie has not grown emotionally, either, because she is too afraid of hurting her mother’s feelings by being firm.

Boundaries are a healthy human behavior trait, and the following are some things you can do to have them, set them, and enforce them:

  1. To have boundaries, you must be self-aware. You cannot set limits for yourself if you are unaware of your personal needs, likes, and desires. Before I was self-aware, I would lash out at everyone when I didn’t receive enough “Michelle time”—much to the chagrin of my family and friends. Once I realized that I needed time alone to recharge, I began to plan it into my schedule on vacations, short weekend trips, and busy weeks. This helped me to maximize my strengths and minimize my weaknesses by meeting my need for silence, relaxation, and reflection. Ask yourself the difficult questions: What do I need? What do I like? When ____ happens, how do I feel?
  2. To set boundaries, you must communicate them. Once I figured myself out, I could not expect that my friends and family suddenly just “knew” that I needed alone time—I had to tell them, and I often have to remind them! Please do not expect people to read your mind. Communicate clearly and communicate often—there is no need to defend or debate, but you must say it. Most importantly, communicate your boundaries to others with grace and kindness. You don’t need to explain yourself, justify your boundaries, or defend your choices: but you DO need to communicate them to others.
  3. To enforce boundaries, you must be firm—but flexible. A lot of people have no boundaries or soft boundaries because they do not know how to firmly but lovingly enforce them. Being firm with boundaries takes discipline and practice! You may have to repeat yourself a number of times and have consequences for when your boundaries are violated constantly. However, being firm does not mean being rigid with your boundaries. If your bedtime is set firmly at 11:00 p.m. on weekdays, but a once-in-a-lifetime event is taking place that will run until midnight, you can give yourself permission to say yes! Remain flexible but firm.

You have a right to care for yourself, and you have a right to be healthy! Boundaries are a great path to self-respect and emotional intelligence and health.

What are some boundaries that you have set in your life?

Right or Well?

I got called out. My pastor responded to something I did by taking up an offense—and as a result, he hurt me very badly. Later, he wrote an e-mail asking me to meet and talk, and I responded with an e-mail telling him where to go and how to get there—-6 pages of shocking directions. It was not difficult to notice, unless you were me: I was emotionally unfit.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net

What is emotional intelligence? I believe emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and control the emotions of yourself and others. A few years ago, I didn’t just lack emotional intelligence, I lacked the basic knowledge about myself and self-control as well, which made me an ineffective leader that never gained the respect of those I led. Had I known more about myself, I would have been able to effectively apply the principles of emotional intelligence and be a better leader.

The following are the three principles that I believe are the most important to improving emotional intelligence.

Principle 1: Manage your emotions. You can’t spell “emotional intelligence” without emotion. Our society and even our churches have become a place of rushed or hushed emotions. People are not taught how to properly express their emotions—or given the time or ability to be angry, to celebrate, to hurt, to grieve, or to heal. We need to shun any assumption in our communities that does not allow us to fully experience all feelings, including (and especially) grief and loss. When we allow ourselves to feel, we grow in empathy and allow others to see us transparently—which in turn draws them to us. And by understanding our emotions, we can control them—and the emotions of others.

Principle 2: Embrace conflict. Once you’ve learned to control your emotions, conflict becomes more manageable as well. As you grow in self-awareness and accept who God has made you to be, your desires during conflict will shift from self-centered to God-centered. You will choose to work through conflict instead of to bury it. Your new awareness and emotional control will affect how others’ respond in the midst of turmoil. Conflict is a natural and necessary part of life, and to grow emotionally, we must learn to face it head-on with grace.

Principle 3: Enforce boundaries. People with high emotional intelligence understand the importance of guarding their families, their time, and their hearts. Can you say “no” and mean it? Are you making sure your family gets the best of you? Do you put restrictions on your work hours? Edwin Louis Cole said, “Boundaries are to protect life, not to limit pleasures.” Setting appropriate boundaries will shield your life from unnecessary and unwanted difficulties while protecting what’s important.

The question is this: do you want to be right or do you want to be well? Part of being well includes being emotionally healthy and working on those areas where we may still be underdeveloped. Is it time for you to grow up emotionally? 

Interested in working on your emotional intelligence and becoming a better leader? Click on “Contact Me” at the top of this page to set up a discovery call with me!