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An “Emotional Reminders” Checklist for the Holidays

The holidays are when our hope for good will and joy, love and meaningful connections is kindled. Perhaps because of this they can also be times of stress and emotional ups and downs when hopes are dashed. Like it or not, we are relationship beings after all. From the cradle to the grave according to researcher John Bowlby, nothing concerns our brains and bodies more.

The bottom line is this: Most all human behaviors are motivated by our inner hardwired emotional strivings to meaningfully connect with others and life, to matter. As real as inner drives for physical sustenance, we’re wired with core emotional drives, or needs, to love and be loved, to be recognized and valued, to find purpose — and contribute one’s love in life, and feel our love matters.

Perhaps of the strength of these inner impulses, too often, we get caught in the details of our conversations trying to solve problems by proving who’s right or wrong, thus, set up to fail.

Here are a few reminders to keep at hand, perhaps breathe into in certain moments, to help you stay light-hearted, ready to refresh and prepare:

  • I am not my emotions, feelings, thoughts, beliefs. I am much more. I am the observer, creator, choice maker of these feelings and thoughts, etc., and my life.
  • Events or others never cause my emotions (at least not directly); what I tell myself or believe does.
  • By changing my thoughts, I can positively transform my life and relationships (providing you really, really, really want to …).
  • I am not responsible for what other people choose to feel; it is a direct result of what they choose to think.
  • It is not my job to change how other people feel or think of me; it scares human beings when someone is trying to change them, as we yearn to be accepted and valued for who we are (even as we realize we need to change and grow).
  • I am not responsible for the happiness of those I love. Learning how to live my life to protect my own happiness however is perhaps one of the most important skills I need.
  • Giving is healthy when it comes from love and joy—not fear, shame or guilt. I let go of using fear, shame or guilt-inducing tactics to get my needs met for love and connection.
  • The more responsibly I protect my happiness, the more optimally my brain and body work together, therefore, the healthier my life and relationships.
  • To form healthy relationships, I consciously act in ways that honor the dignity of myself and others—unconditionally.
  • I cannot control what others do, think, feel, say. I can make requests for change.
  • Requests are “demands” when shame, guilt or fear are used to influence another’s decision. I remind myself that demands steal one of life’s greatest joys: freely giving from the heart.
  • As a human being, paradoxically, I must understand that life and relationship are too serious to take seriously! (Think about this as a ‘balancing’ thought.)
  • Take nothing personally. What others say or do has less to do with me, and more to do with what is going on inside of them, their past experiences, wounds, projections, etc.
  • Finally, there is no failure. I am a walking-talking communication network – and so are others. Words and actions are simply feedback! All communication is potentially valuable feedback on what works and what doesn’t, that can be used to improve my life and happiness!
An “Emotional Reminders” Checklist for the Holidays

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2013). An “Emotional Reminders” Checklist for the Holidays. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2019, from


Last updated: 10 Jan 2013
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