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Everyone wants a harmonious Christmas filled with love – but that doesn’t mean we all want to spend it in the same way. Melissa Porter offers some festive life hacks for surviving the holidays unscathed.

My son is obsessed with ‘family’ and, for him, the Christmas period is when he craves being at home with people he loves the most. While I’m suggesting travel options and surreptitiously planting images of Indonesian elephants and coral reefs under his nose, his intention is the complete opposite to mine. While I love my friends and family, there are few people I can spend more than a couple of hours around a table with, and the ones who light my fire live around the world. What to do?

Although we are mother and son, our conflicting needs got me thinking about the dynamics a difference of opinion can inspire. So, here’s a list of my favourite behavioural life hacks to help avoid conflict during this festive period.

1. It’s your call
Remember: if you’re engaging with another human, you’re not being forced against your will – it’s your choice to be in this position. Choose to enjoy the process. Frowning inspires wrinkles.

2. Accept differences
Know that there are seven billion of us and we are each perfectly imperfect and unique mixtures of thoughts, choices and beliefs, defined by our past, present and future experiences.

3. Understand that relationships are illuminators of what is unresolved within us
Your negative feelings highlight what you still need to learn about yourself. No one was born judgemental, feeling guilty and with shame-inspired self-talk. We learn this way of thinking and behaving. Unlearn.

4. It’s not you, it’s them
Never take anything another human says or does personally. It’s a reflection of what’s within them, not you.

5. Expectations are a source of our sadness
When we begin to understand that our thoughts can be controlled, why then would we choose to be sad? If an expectation could potentially lead us towards sadness, then drop the expectation and choose to replace it with acceptance for what is.

6. Listen to understand
To communicate, we often blame, judge and denigrate. This is a child’s style of behaving. Instead, choose to ask powerful questions such as ‘What do you need from me?’. Seek to clarify in order to understand, instead of making assumptions which are projections of your understanding of a situation.

7. Watch for words such as ‘should’, ‘need’ and ‘ought to’
These are used by people who don’t feel passionately about their choices and are inspired by guilt, blame and shame. Seek to make choices based on your wants and passions. What will set your soul on fire?

These in mind, Pierce and I have agreed to do both: we’ll satisfy my wanderlust spirit with some juicy travel and combine this with a love-fuelled fiesta somewhere fun. Happy holidays, friends.

Melissa is a professional, certified transformational life coach (melissaportercoach.com)