Coping at Christmas – Tis the Season to be Grumpy!

Many struggle with coping at Christmas especially when things don’t go their way. However you can choose a different outcome to being grumpy. Dr Bill Price regards Dr L Michael Hall as a friend and mentor and is pleased to publish this post to offer Christmas stress relief for those who need it!

Don’t succumb to Christmas mental health struggles…

Normally the holiday season, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years is a “holly jolly time of the year.” Stores are full of shoppers, restaurants full of customers, families traveling and gathering, end of the year parties, and on and on. This year, not so much. With the economic turn down, this year it is more of a season to be grumpy, to complain about how things are going. I know, I feel that urge.

This led me to to question how I experience a grumpy mood. I’ve noticed how different it is from frustration or anger. These tend to indicate much bigger issues and problems. Something blocks me from reaching a goal and so I feel frustrated. Or if something violates my values then I feel anger. It takes bigger or more significant things to trigger these emotions for me. But for feeling grumpy, annoyed, and irritated it does not take much! Just a little inconvenience will do.

The mind-set is also different. With the larger negative emotions, my mind goes to the problem and then to problem-solving. But with feeling grumpy, my mind goes to what is missing. I do not focus on a positively stated problem that needs to be addressed, I focus on what I don’t have and what’s missing. The first focuses on something present to deal with, the second focuses on what is not— on a negation.

“Feeling grumpy, annoyed, and irritated does not take much! Just a little inconvenience will do!”

Dr L Michael Hall

The meanings that create frustration are obvious and clear— there’s a block. Something is interfering with my plans. I need to go through, around, over, under, or sideways to move forward. The meanings that create anger, if it is healthy and appropriate anger, are also obvious and clear— something is violating my values. Something significant and important — human dignity, preciousness of life, the value of X— is threatened or violated.

But with grumpiness, the meanings are not so obvious and clear. What are the meanings that I’m constructing in my head in order to feel irritated and grumpy? “I’m not getting my way!” “The world is conspiring against me.” “Nobody is helping me get what I want.” Noticing this, it becomes clear that I’m not clearly defining a problem that I can solve, I’m just complaining. I’m whining about things outside of my control. I sound like a 5 year-old fussing and fuming about not getting to play with a certain toy when there are piles of toys all around him.

NLP, grumpiness and coping at Christmas

Now if NLP is “the study of the structure of the subjective experience” and we look for the structure of complaining, to effectively complain you need to begin by mis-matching what you have with what you don’t have and then pessimistically focus on what you don’t have. Then step into that experience so that as you focus more and more on what is missing, you feel helpless to do anything about it. Your locus of control is on the outside, it is external to you as you scan the outside world asking the “they” question, “When are they going to fix this?” “Why don’t they do something about this!”

Wow! That’s a loaded package of meta-programs: mis-matching, pessimism, associated, external reference, etc. It comes from and it reinforces a state of dis-empowerment. The person is not owning his own powers of thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting.

Nelson Zink wrote “To complain is to display your inflexibility.” (The Structure of Delight, p. 215). Ah yes, the lack of flexibility! There’s a lack of using one’s creative problem-solving to come up with alternatives.

Instead of thinking about how to turn what you consider a liability into an asset (Neurons #65, Dec. 7), there is a sense of resignation. Instead of a robust sense of resilience, there is a giving up. To the trip that has caused a temporary, and usually tiny little, set-back— one stays down complaining to the high heavens and does not bounce back again.

Create something new and different

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed at Christmas…

Now the value of knowing how you and I create our states, emotions, and moods is that when you know how you create them, you are at choice point and can create something new and different.

You could look around and match what blessings you do have and then optimistically let them count.

“Adopt an attitude that there’s lots of options for turning liabilities into assets and set-backs into resilience.”

Michael Hall

You can step out of the grumpy feelings and step into more hopeful, loving, passionate, and courageous feelings. Or you could at least stay neutral.

You could fully own your powers by referring what you think and value and refuse to play the “world’s victim.”

You could increase your flexibility by adopting an attitude that there’s lots of options for turning liabilities into assets and set-backs into resilience.

Actually, this is the season to feel whatever you choose to feel— if you step up to do some executive thinking and deciding.

For more wisdom from Dr L Michael Hall, please see Secrets of Personal Mastery

Dr L Michael Hall

Dr L Michael Hall has a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Union Institute University, Cincinnati, Ohio. He specialises in: Cognitive Psychology and Psycho-Linguistics.

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