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Holiday Survival Guide: Channel Your Other Personalities

Updated on December 16, 2016
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Cheryl Abel is a writer based in Annapolis with two degrees in Writing from Columbia University and Notre Dame de Namur..

"Be happy; consider the alternative."

“Be happy; consider the alternative.”

The perils of Christicekwanzukkah are coming up fast. The festivities bring out the worst: toxic in-laws/coworkers/neighbors, sad memories, gossip, snubs, old quarrels, sibling rivalry and other family dysfunctions.

I need a new survival strategy. My old strategies, stress and misery, are not appealing enough.

I consider being alone, but Dr. Hart tells me that I should be around people, to raise my neurotransmitter levels. It’s healthier for me, she says.

I could try to remember that the glass is half full, but I wonder if this is like relying on an 8-year-old’s discretion not to open gifts until the big day.

Over the years, I haven’t much changed my ways of responding to challenging situations. If I were CEO of any body, I would have fired myself long ago.

Next, I think of calling in a local team that can help me: the other people that live inside me. Please let me explain before you report me to my publisher.

Explaining Our Multiple Personalities

In her book “My Stroke of Insight”, author Dr. Jill Taylor talks about having a stroke that damaged and silenced her left brain hemisphere (http://drjilltaylor.com/book.html). With rehabilitation, her left brain came back “online”, bringing back her old, unlikeable judging and analytical personality. In her past, she had allowed that personality to dominate her character. Now she realizes she can choose her character: “What a wonderful gift this stroke has been in permitting me to pick and choose who and how I want to be in the world.”

Taking Action

I begin to see how I am dominated by a timid, nervous character, who freaks out, shrieks, “Oh, no, it’s a disaster,” then shuts down. My placid roommate calls this character “C3PO”, like the robot from Star Wars.

I also see my other personalities, other voices inside, who want some action, who have been repeatedly ignored while I tend to C3PO’s tantrums. At this point, all the rest of us personalities decide that we’re not going to take it anymore. I begin scheming how to use my other personalities, including:

Spock (from Star Trek) - emotionless, impeccable logic

Grasshopper (David Carradine’s role from Kung Fu) - gentle, timeless wisdom

Mom - (no explanation needed)

Sunshine - the “dudette”, a slacker

Terminator - enforcer and authoritarian

Colonel O’Neill - “just get it done”, “cut the nonsense”

Spirit - The Spirit of Christicekwanzukkah

Now that I have a new game plan, “we” decide not to fire my inner CEO during this holiday season. To give you an idea of how my plan works, here are some general examples of how the different members of my new team could speak up in problem situations:

1. Situations with gossip/toxic people:

Inner Mom: “That’s not very nice, dear.”

Spock: “You may not have all the facts/details/perspective to make an informed opinion” or “To gossip about others is not wise”

Grasshopper: “Look beneath the surface of the pool to see its depths” (Bonus: this may also stymie them momentarily while they mull over the metaphor, looking for hidden messages)

2. Situations with kids (or adult kids) fighting or breaking things:

Grasshopper: “Why do you not follow the rules of the house?”

Inner Mom: “Time-out!”

Terminator: “Get out!”

3. Trying to get someone to help you with the dishes

Terminator: “You are required to follow the rules of the house”

Inner Mom: “Will you help me, dear?”

Spock: “Please tell me the logic of why I should do all the work?”

Spirit: “Hey, let’s all pitch in!”

4. Someone calls you a loser or other insult

Spock: “Please specify to what are you referring? Money? People? Community? Integrity? Ecological Imprint?”

Grasshopper: “How will the value of your days be measured – what you got or what you gave?”

Sunshine: “Dudette/Dude, that’s like sooo Uncle Scrooge”

Colonel O’Neill: “I’ll take it under advisement”

5. Crude behavior or comment

Sunshine: “Dude! High Five.”

Inner Mom: “That was, er, precious.”

6. Someone keeps complaining about someone or something:

Grasshopper: “Is it not one’s path which they tread that leads to an eternal grave?”

Spock: “So what do you plan to do about it?”

Terminator: “I’d terminate them”

7. Someone wants you to go to their place of ritual/worship, you want to decline gracefully:

Spock: “I respect your traditions; let me tell you about mine ....”

8. Unhappy memories?

Grasshopper: “The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift.”

Mr. Spock or C3PO?

I hope that my new plan will work. I’ve already experienced success with my inner Spock at work--that new personae threw some people off their usual game. Next, for work, I’m scheming whether or not to move back and forth between different personalities, testing the theory that people can’t hit a moving target.

For this Christicekwanzukkah, I feel that it’s important to not let others dampen my fun and enjoyment, which would lower my neurotransmitter levels and the spirit of the season. Also, I must remember to keep C3PO calm and duct tape his mouth, if needed.

Grasshopper and Frank Sinatra

I strongly believe that, during the holiday, many conflicts can be avoided. As Grasshopper says, “a battle avoided cannot be lost”. Also, have fun and remember Frank Sinatra’s “living well is the best revenge.”

My long-term plan: The new “CEO” of my mind encourages teamwork, and anyone who doesn’t comply will be tossed out on their ear. In the future, I plan to listen to every one of my personalities; my team needs every one of their unique, valuable insights.

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      Cheryl Abel 8 months ago from Annapolis, MD

      That is actually my situation this year, so I've been listening to the Colonel who keeps telling me to just get it done--catch up in my paperwork, taxes, writing, reach out to old friends, etc., while I have the chance. My little brother, who lives far away, always volunteers in the soup kitchen (I guess he's listening to his inner mother).

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      Mandy 8 months ago

      It sounds like a good strategy, dear. What do you say (or who says) what do you need to hear if you are totally alone, and all the family will be out of town?