Staying True to Me During the Holidays


Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move. – Osho

I am definitely writing this blog post mostly for myself!

I am currently visiting my family in Amman, Jordan and while I love being here and seeing my family, I also find it challenging. Challenging to stay true to myself while also getting along with everyone. It feels like a dance between being with others while also being with myself and staying true to what matters to me.

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there with this struggle so I wanted to share a simple approach for making choices when it comes to family – and really anything in life.

It’s very simple, yet not always easy to apply.

Here it is:

Keep FOG – FEAR, OBLIGATION and GUILT – out of decisions and relationships as much as possible

Because FOG is often what drives how we make decisions and interact when it comes to family.

We might choose to spend time with family because we’re afraid of disappointing people, because of a sense of obligation or because we will feel guilty if we don’t.

Yet FOG often leaves us feeling angry and resentful and doesn’t really serve anyone in the long-term. When we choose based on FOG, we don’t really want to be there and we often end up not really being present. It also creates relationships that are built on FOG, which feel heavy and really not much fun.

So how else can we choose? Another way, and the way that I want to live, is by choosing as much as possible based on what really matters to me.

This means moving towards what matters – my values – even when this is uncomfortable, even when there is a risk of disappointing others or having to face fears, or being uncomfortable.

Imagine that you are a boat – you can spend your life just moving away from stuff you want to avoid (FOG) without any clear direction of where you are actually going – or you can actively choose where you are headed, and weather the storms along the way.

Both involve discomfort – but with choices made out of FOG this looks more like resentment in the long-term and being untrue to ourselves, whereas choices made by heading towards what matters are more about the discomfort in the short-term of disappointing people while being true to ourselves.

So for example, I could choose NOT to spend Christmas with my family – and this might mean having an uncomfortable conversation with my mother and perhaps disappointing people, but if this means being true to myself and not making choices based on FOG, then I need to be willing to allow this discomfort to be there – to choose that it is worth having in the service of my values.

I could also reframe what I see as obligations as choices I am making. For example, I could actively choose to spend Christmas with my family because being with my family really matters to me and it becomes something I am moving towards.

I find that when I actively choose to do things (or not), rather than feeling like I have no choice, it makes all the difference in how I approach the situation, in the attitude that I bring and how present I am.

Research shows that our relationship to ourselves directly influences our relationships to others. So it is only when we are being true to ourselves and making choices that are aligned with our values, rather than reacting from FOG that we can be authentic and present with others.

And I can think of no better gift to give people than for us to show up as we are, having actively chosen to be there, FOG-free.


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