This holiday season, I have been exploring the possibility of giving something that is intangible but still valuable and long-lasting. So many of the clients that I have worked with recently have been dealing with issues of trust. I decided to use some of the knowledge that I have learned and applied professionally in a personal effort to maintain and rebuild trust for myself. I recognize that the key elements of trust involve straight talk and consistent behavior. In the past, I have found myself often agreeing to things that I really did not want to do just because it was the holidays. When I considered them, I decided that it was OK to do them but I needed to be honest with myself and accept that I might prefer to be doing something else. If I can't talk straight to myself, how will I be able to do it with friends or relatives? While I have been teaching others to avoid holiday stress, I discovered I was not following my own advice.
My first opportunity for straight talk came immediately regarding the family Christmas dinner. I had been away for Thanksgiving and guessed that I was expected to host the Christmas dinner for relatives back home. Please note, that this was a guess and not anything that anyone had asked me to do. When I presented this idea to my husband, he immediately questioned my interest in doing this. He knew that I had already agreed to provide coverage for a friend who was a psychotherapist while she took a holiday trip. I might end up working in some psychiatric emergency room instead of my own kitchen. I admitted that I had spent several days with lots of friends and relatives at Thanksgiving, and I really would prefer to have a small, quiet time together for Christmas. He insisted that I call the local relatives to find out about their plans and let them know that we would not be the hosts this year. I made the calls without apologies and look forward to being together with them at New Year's instead.
My first step in building trust is being straight with myself. Next, I chose to be straight with the other persons involved in my decision. The challenge now is to be consistent in sharing my authentic feelings. I have been involved with a church project to collect and distribute gifts to needy families in our area. This is something that I have enjoyed making the time to do. I also agreed to do the Sunday talk on the significance of the Advent season to relieve the minister who is grieving the recent loss of his wife. I have felt authentic with this behavior and choices I’ve made. These have been enjoyable gifts to share. I also feel that I am building trust within my spiritual community. It is important to me to give back to the place where I receive.
There are so many gifts that cannot be bought and wrapped but are a true expression of your caring. Be straight. Be consistent. Be authentic. Be true to your word. Others will know that they can count on you. Even if they don't like your decision, they will know that they can trust it to be true. What can you do this holiday season that will help you to build trust with yourself and your friends, family, or community, too?