I am trying to get excited about Christmas the holiday. I’m not.
I mean, it’s going to be a good time, but there’s a puzzle–
O THIS IS FUN! LET’S THINK LIKE THIS!– there’s a puzzle to it. (sings) Christ-mas-Puzz-le. What is this puzzle? A lot of times if we are trying to expand our thinking, we can make a lot of progress out of figuring out not the answer to a puzzle, but what the puzzle is. Answering them is easy.
So there’s just a sensation, it’s just a vibration, it’s just a feeling, just a kind of HUM in your mind…it’s a niggle. People call it a niggle. I call it a niggle, and I’m people. So what is this niggle? Does anyone else have a niggle? Let’s talk about in detail how to dig through a niggle.
- The thing about digging through a niggle number one is be gentle. You don’t want to go to your niggle HEY WHAT ARE YOU ALL ABOUT and start trying to give it categories and lump it into them, because you will mess your niggle up. Niggles are really very special, brilliant kinds of thoughts– but you have to leave them as they are.
- Basically, a niggle is a thought that’s in a ‘language’ other than the language you think in. (‘I’m using language loosely, but it applies.’) So there is meaning to the niggle already, exactly as you are feeling it. IT’S telling you everything YOU need to know, it’s just that you don’t understand it because of the way that it’s being presented to you. The ‘words’ of the niggle don’t need to be changed–you just need to learn to understand each one.
- So don’t mess with your niggle, because it will run away. Ok, it won’t run away– it will just break. It’s ok if it breaks because it will come back probably, but it might take some time. It might come back a year later or a month later or a week later: if it is important it will be back. But you don’t want to break it, if you are trying to figure out what it is.
- Niggles tend to have a pitch. For me, for everyone, thoughts are on frequencies, like musical pitches. So your niggle is on either a low note like a boat horn, or a high note, like worry, like screeching tires. Or something like that. Waves on a beach, maybe.
- My best niggles, the ones that I like — I can’t believe I have latched onto this word. I apologize for latching onto a double-G word — but this thought that I am looking at, it’s like a, a.. a , um.. Maybe it doesn’t like being called a niggle and feels it’s above such a silly name .. it’s like a, a, .. um.. The point was that these are hard to figure out, so this is ok.. It’s like a, an, eehhhhh. That’s where the best ‘thoughts’ (niggles) come from, in my opinion, from that tone right there: eehhhhh. Eehhhhhh. What is that thought about? Christmas. Christmas and what?
- This niggle is a question; it requires an action. How did I figure that out? Well, I’m just thinking around the niggle, thinking different things about it that I feel I can be sure are true. These things won’t explain it, or tell me what I want to know about it, but they will lead me to the explanation. So even though they don’t seem like much help I think them. Have to remember not to change any of the thinking, but I don’t know what it is, so I can only pull off very little things to think about it.
So this one: good tone, you know, very gentle, you know, I’m worried, you don’t need to do anything about it, I’m not saying that I’m worried, but there is a situation that’s on my mind, and it’s very very, of course you’d want to be gentle with a thought like this, it’s so very very gentle with you! It’s not a worry, it’s not a plan or a command, it’s not a you’d better, like an admonition– it’s really hard to say what it is. There’s some information there: there’s a way that things could go that could be quite nice, were one to go that way.. ? And really one would feel better, one could avoid some trouble….There’s a nice way to go if one wants to go that way…. Hmm. Eehhhhh…. Christmas…. .
- Then you can look for an emotional handle to your niggle, something maybe goofy but still true, appeal to it that way. Very emotional, and sweet in tone, this particular area of thought of mine. Hmmm. It’s very….what would it like, something that feels like this? And there is a quick image, caught it! It was a picture of me– really? I could almost feel my arms aching. This is the niggle? For Christmas, wouldn’t it be fun to be able to pick everyone up in a hug and just carry them around the house?
No, that would definitely be fun, sure. No, really, I mean it! That is something really fun, and Christmas, but I’m not going to be able to actually do that. But I should try. According to this niggle. That is what it wants. It would be so great, so warm and cozy. Lots of smiles, laughing. So that is the puzzle; how can pick my entire family up and carry them around, at Christmas? Some sort of sling? I don’t think I’m going to be able to do that. Do I need to figure out a way to actually pick everybody up and carry them around the house? I don’t think so. Subconsciousnessess are very metaphorical. So pick them up, carry them, pick them up eehhhh .. Christmas.
- When your mind demands the impossible, ask about alternatives. Because we can’t pick them up with our arm, because they’re heavy, how else can we pick them up? Ah hah. And here is the puzzle answer. Here’s the fished out niggle, intact I believe: Christmas is an opportunity to teach every member of my family something. And really give them a leg up for the new year. And won’t that make me feel fantastic, if I can get the time aside, to really do this for each member of my family, to think about what I could show them that would lift them up and give them a little bit of a boost.
In terms of the goals that I have for them. Because I have goals for my family members’ lives. And you can say, That’s very controlling, but it’s not, because the goals are very simple, like, I want them to be happy and I want them to be healthy.
Ok, so I am to think of things to do. I’ll have this opportunity, at Christmas; it is a prime opportunity, when everyone is incredibly good-willed and open-minded, to teach my family some important lessons.
NO, sure, niggle. THAT SHOULD BE EASY! I DON’T SEE WHAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT ABOUT THAT AT ALL. We’ll just carefully and systematically review the areas we’ve been working on with every single one of of our family members and see how Christmas can fit into those goals. In the next few hours. NO PROBLEM.
Also, I’m not buying expensive gifts. I don’t think I’m going to buy gifts at all. I don’t want to teach lessons through gift-giving. That’s really not the idea. So we’re going to do things outside of the gift giving.
So my father for instance, I’ve already done. My dad is done. My father is not the world’s sortof warmest person. He was raised by a guy who was actually of a generation before the one that raised the people who are my parents’ age, and who was just a very stern dude. And so my dad, from growing up with this really stern dude, is pretty stern himself. He’s very much focused on practical things, like a Capricorn*, which he is.
My dad, his Christmas lesson, is– our relationship is very much sortof business-like: he asks me for things and I do them; I ask him for things and he does them, and then we thank each other, or we say that we’re not going to do them, and that’s it. So Dad, got that one covered, I know what I’m going to do for him (and he should stop reading here if he wants to be surprised). I’m going to basically give a demonstration, that without him asking, and without it being expected: I just want to do some sortof warm and cozy things for him. He’s traveling this December, and I want to do some nice, warm, and cozy things, so that when he comes home he feels hugged, he feels loved, he feels sort of cared for– not in any kind of excessive way, but in an unexpected and very warm way. Not a whole lot of stuff, just a couple of things like, I was thinking of you warmly, and I want you to know that this is something that people can do (maybe try it some time if you feel inclined).
That it is ok. It’s almost like adding something to the me-dad rule book. This is part of our engagement, that we feel warmly towards each other and demonstrate this. So that’s Dad. Dad’s covered. Next!
You know that word, niggle, there’s something about it that bothers me. Hmm. Anyway.
My mother already received her Christmas gift from me. The lessons I am working on with my mother — this is crazy — this is really personal stuff, I don’t talk about my family much — but the skills that I am working on with my mother are her independence and her calmness. It’s not that I want her to feel like she is capable of handling pretty much whatever life throws at her — she is, and I think she knows that — but I want her to feel capable of making life look the way she wants it to look. That’s sort of the lesson that we’ve been working on for several years: that life isn’t just something that happens to you, but life is something that you get to make decisions about, and you have the power to carry those out, and it’s fun, to do so.
It’s not scary; it’s not hard work; it’s something that people are there to help you with, and it’s important to the people around you that you have what you want. We don’t want you to feel like you have to be the bottom and the last and the end of the line.
And so.. How can we do that at Christmas? Ok, here is some simple advice, easy to follow, which is the best kind I like to give: easy enough, just call mom up and get her kind of dreaming… and get her visions and her schemes for what she wants the holiday to look like.
And I know what she is going to say: she’s going to say that she wants it to look exactly like last year. JUST COME OVER AND HAVE DINNER HON AND THEN WE’LL OPEN PRESENTS. But I know that there are other things, in her heart, other things that she might desire, some group activity that is part of her secret Christmas dreams, that are sortof part of her childish and less practical self. (If you can imagine my mom — if you knew my mother, the idea of my mom’s more childish self should terrify to you. I know I’ve said before that she’s a very funny woman, and she has no qualms about being childish in her sense of sense of humor, but this is really a reflection of how not-childish she tends to be in her everyday life. But encouraging a lady who has a plastic pumpkin for a pet to be more childish definitely takes bravery.)
Anyway, we’ll try that. No gift giving involved. Easy but difficult. Plus with a group, she loves the group. It makes me feel like I have a good couple of credits towards a psychotherapy degree whenever I get to this part of my mother that knows what it wants, to be happy, and isn’t scared to talk about it. So let me see if I can do that, this Christmas….
Another thing that’s important with my mother is for her to think more that we, as a family, are not in crisis: we are the way we are supposed to be. How are we going to do that? Christmas? An easy way to teach this is by comparisons, just telling true stories about what other families are like at Christmas, to show that we’re doing better than them at least, that we are not a failure, that we are ok, even good. Many families compete to make snide remarks, for instance, while we compete to make surprisingly nonsensical remarks. That’s important.**
Ok, I have three, maybe four more to go. I try to include the people that my parents date in my family. Some of these rest I’m skipping for now, because they are pretty tricky. The lessons that occur to one to teach them are almost family cliches. LIKE, every year, maybe in your family too, everyone thinks I WISH SO-AND-SO WOULD BE MORE RESPONSIBLE AND SPEND LESS MONEY ON CHEESE ALL THE TIME not saying this is one of the lessons in my family or yours, just an example — or, I WISH SO-AND-SO WOULDN’T ALWAYS PITCH SUCH A FIT ABOUT CAT FOOD AT BREAKFAST.
And year after year we have the same takes on the same people. And we think we should do something to change these things about So-and-so. Every year. So I’m trying to avoid thinking these kinds of things.
Because the thing about teaching lessons is if you have to teach them, you can only teach people the lessons that they want. If year after year you are trying to teach them the same lesson, that’s because they don’t want you to teach them that. Whereas if you find the lessons that people want to be taught, they will jump on them. They’ll, they’ll, they’ll … love them. You’ll see them perk up; they’ll smile; they’ll get real excited; they’ll get real energetic. But I’m not thinking of these kinds of things anymore. I’m thinking of old things, that won’t help anything. I’ve moved too far away from my niggle. It will be back, and I’ll try picking it up again.
*I don’t believe in astrology. I am using cultural references.
** I usually lose. To my mother.