397 | Preparing Your Heart For The Holidays

Today on the show we’re talking about managing the stress of the holiday season. I’ll give you some practical advice and solid encouragement for dealing with the various family, home and travel stresses that you’re going to encounter this week and next.

In this episode we’ll talk about:

  • What NOT to do.
  • What you should do
  • And, what’s in it for you.
You can do more than just “survive” the season that we’re in. You can actually thrive right now where you are, and come out on the other side of this season having gained greater perspective, richer relationships, and more peace than you thought possible. But, first, we’ve got to prepare our hearts.

397 | Preparing Your Heart for the Holidays 

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Welcome to the Chris LoCurto show where we discuss leadership and life and discover that businesses what you do, not who you are. Welcome to the show, folks. Today we're talking about the stress of the season. I know you're like Chris, really, I mean, is there stress, of course, there's stress, we've all been dealing with this, right. Some of you may be traveling, you're probably going to be around extended family, or at least some of you will be I noticed that at Thanksgiving, one of the things that I think was surprising and, and, you know, a little sad for me is that I looked afterwards on social media and saw that a lot of folks were just spending time alone or just like with two people, and not really spending time with family. And that kind of sucks. I think we're all experiencing that, right. I think we're all kind of not enjoying this COVID time and the impact that it's had on all of us. So that's definitely a stressor, the political climate, man, I met a man definitely causing a lot of tension, a lot of struggles. A lot of stress, I think everybody wants it to be, you know, we want to get to a place where it's complete, but I think a large portion of people want it to be correct. as well. You know, no matter what I think we want to be able to move forward in our life in this country and know that what we're voting for is is actually correct and accurate in all of that fun stuff. So I think that's adding a lot of stress.

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Probably one of the bigger

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stresses, at least for those of you that have a family at home, is the 24 seven, everybody's at the house. Everybody is cooped up, everybody is you know, we're trying to be run businesses, Lee, you know, do our jobs, be husbands and wives be parents, parents, being teachers, you know, school teachers trying to lead kids in, you know, their, their schooling itself. And I feel for those places that have those really heavy stay at home orders. I know a lot of you out there that are listening to this. You don't like it, you don't agree with it. That's bringing a lot of stress as well. And so for and then there's a lot of folks that I actually I do know that believe that they need to stay as completely cooped up as they possibly can. No matter how no matter what your view is, no matter what your opinion is, this is all adding to a lot of stress right now. So we want to prepare our hearts this week, a lot of you are going to spend time with family, some of you're going to go to extended family's house, some of you're going to go to grandma's house, parents house, whatever, and spend time with family. And for some folks, that's going to be difficult, that's going to add another level of stress. We completely get this we understand that. So how does this sound to you proverbs 21 nine says this, it is better to live alone in the corner of an attic than with a quarrelsome person in a lovely home. Some of you may be right now listening to this episode in the corner of your attic, as far away from everybody as you could possibly get I get it, I understand. The sad thing is, is that many times we allow so much of the stress to affect us that we lose joy, that we lose living, you know, the anxiety that we are, are experiencing can actually be a lot of it can be avoided. And so today we're going to be talking about avoiding unnecessary stress and conflict. So that we don't go through there's, there's already enough stress, and conflict that, unfortunately, is unavoidable. We want to take a look at all the stuff that we can avoid. So we're gonna be getting into all of that, or at least part of that when we come back right after this.

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Don't miss out. All right, we are talking about preparing our hearts not just to survive this holiday season. But to thrive all the way through it right? We don't want you to get to the other side and be like, well, praise God, I got through that. No, we want you to actually thrive through this. And there are some ways of doing that. There are some things that you can do that you may not be thinking about. Or sometimes when you get in the stress mode, you need a little prodding from somebody, you know, this episode here to say, hey, there are some things that you can avoid. There are some things that you can do to thrive even when circumstances are crazy. But first, we're going to have to deal with the most important piece of this whole puzzle. And that is ourselves. Oh, crud, I knew you're gonna say that. There you go. Chris, I always go into personal responsibility. Well, guess what? Believe it or not, we actually contribute to a lot of the stress we experience. So listen to this and see if it resonates with you. Now, Zig, Ziglar years ago, I was hanging out. And he was sharing the story with a group of us about this, this gal that came up to him in a book signing line. And I don't remember what the book was. But she came up and she's like, I'm so thankful for your book, this has helped me out so much. You know, I work for this company down here. And they're just it's a mean company and mean bosses and terrible this and just complaining like crazy about the place that she worked. And Zig said, let me ask you a question. Do they give you an opportunity to come to work every day? Well, of course, they do they pay you for it? Well, absolutely. And do you? Are you able to take that money and go pay for a roof over your head? Well, of course, I can. And can you put food on the table? And can you close and on and on? And on and on? She says Well, yeah. And he goes well, then there's something positive to be had there isn't there? There's something positive to see in that business. And as he shared that it was just such a great a first off I mean, right, just always Mr. Positive and always just fantastic outlook on life. And that's the way he was, you know, and it just carries over into his family into his followers, all that kind of fun stuff. But it's also that great reminder of how we perceive things. Right? So here she's perceiving her business as being this menial business that has all these problems. Sure. I have no doubt that the company that you worked for had problems, right. But is there a silver lining to this? Is there a positive side to this? Are there things that you can look at and go well praise God for this? Or is it just all negative? Right? Katherine Pulsifer says it this way, how we perceive a situation and how we react to it is the basis of our stress. If you focus on the negative in any situation, you can expect high levels of stress. However,

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if you try to see the good in the situation, your stress levels will greatly diminish. Krishna, Chris, you haven't been around my family? Not? Okay. I get it. I understand you haven't been around how insane it is. I get it. I understand. Here's the thing we have to think about the Yes, there is stress out there. But how are you going to look at the situation? How are you going to receive the situation? How are you going to view the person who may be controlling or manipulative or the arguments or you know, we've all had those people in our lives that dropped something, you know, a conversation bomb in the middle of the table, just to see if they can't get people riled up. We've all experienced that. But how you handle it is all on you. How you perceive it is all on you. One of the most important things that you can know before you go spend time with family that may cause a lot of stress is you don't have to respond to everything. In fact, you don't even have to respond to most things. Right? Just because somebody is throwing out some conversations that you know are intended to get under your skin doesn't mean that you have to respond to it. A funny thing happens when you stop responding to stuff like that, they will keep going, they'll keep going. But eventually, they'll stop. Now, for some people, if it's really controlling a manipulative person, they're gonna go super hard at you in trying to really get you to respond. But here's the deal if you just let them do it, and you don't actually respond, that they look pretty ridiculous in their attempt. And then eventually, they will stop. You don't have to respond to everything. So here's what we're going to start with. We're going to start with the things of what not to do. This will help you to get rid of some of the unnecessary stress during this time during these holiday times with family or with whoever, whatever you're experiencing, right. So scripture is pretty clear that there are some things that we need to avoid and some people that we need to avoid. Second, Timothy 223 says this, "but refuse to shut your mind against it and have nothing to do with trifling ill-informed unedifying stupid controversies over ignorant questionings for you know that they foster strife and breed quarrels."

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Now, that's from the Amplified Bible, and I love the way that the Amplified Bible puts it because it makes it really clear. If you are spending time having arguments with ill-informed unedifying or stupid controversies over ignorant questionings, then guess what you're asking for it? Shut your mind up against that stuff. Don't spend time with it. Don't spend time thinking about that. Instead, recognize that it is somebody who is trying to do something either gain worth or cause, you know, their hopes are that somebody else loses worth in the process. All it does is foster strife and quarrels. Why are you spending time with it? Right? If you are spending time on social media, calling over your opinions, you're wasting time. What is it getting you? What is that gaining you? There's no point. If it's not doing anything productive, then it's just causing you extra strife that you don't need. So think about this, I want you to ask yourself this question. What do you find yourself arguing about? whether it's online, whether it's with family, whether it's in with friends or co-workers? Is it? Is it politics? Is it the Coronavirus? Is it social unrest? Is it the loss of business? Is it racial discrimination? What is the thing that you find yourself or things? You know, maybe it's multiple things? What do you find yourself arguing about? And then ask yourself the question, What benefit is the argument now, I'm not talking about having a legitimate conversation of opinions and asking for somebody's you know, opinion, and you're wanting to find out where they're coming from and to explain it so you can better your own way of thinking know, which that's probably point 00 1% of the time that that's actually happening. But if that is happening, let's just say that that happens. Great. Fantastic. That's awesome. There are many times here, we will have discussions through something and say, you know, what are your thoughts on this? Where are you coming from on that? To help us grow in our perspective gathering of it, but that, you know, you guys know, that's not what I'm referring to? what I'm referring to is this, the stress and anxiety that comes up because somebody you know, has an opinion that is opposite of yours, or they're pushing it ridiculously or they're incredibly ill-informed. And, you know, this is not hard to see that they're incredibly ill-informed, and they're pushing their opinions as though they're well informed. And it's just silly. The amount of time that you spend arguing or combating that it's just adding stress to you. It's not helping so here's what we can control. All right. So this is what you need to take responsibility for. You need to take responsibility for your thoughts. And you need to take responsibility for your words. When it comes to our thoughts proverbs 423 through 27 says this, above all else, guard your heart For everything you do flows from it. Keep your mouth free of perversity. Keep corrupt talk far from your lips, let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you give careful thought to the paths of for your feet, and be steadfast in all your ways do not turn to the right or to the left. Keep your foot from evil. Guys. I can't stress how many things I've had to remove from my life to keep my thoughts from being focused on crap. Alright, I know a lot of you have done that as well. There's a lot of things that I've had to remove so that I don't think about Jonker. I don't allow things to cause strife in my life, or I don't allow things to cause anxiety. because believe it or not, it's my responsibility. Who's going to take the responsibility, there are lots of people that I've unfollowed on social media, people I love, but they don't stop the drumbeat of the negative thing that I just can't handle.

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I don't need that in my brain. Sometimes you need to just remove the things so that you guard your heart. Sometimes you don't need to be looking at it. My gosh, it's insane how much we've become obsessed with our phones and social media and all this crap, right? As if we can't sit and just enjoy the lack of activity, you know, on a weekend or nighttime or study something that's good or positive. So choose, if your thoughts are ending up, affected in a negative way, change the things you're putting into your mind. Change the things that you're allowing in, make the decision. People are thinking I'm gonna think I'm crazy though, Chris, if I don't ever get on social media, who will? Well, but people are gonna think I'm crazy, Chris, if I don't, who will? Write in What do you care. Instead, focus on the positive things, but positive things in your mind put positive things in your thoughts. So that you can focus on those things. Those are something that you can control your thoughts, you can control what you put in. When it comes to our words. James three, six says it this way this comes from the message, it only takes a spark Remember to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. Think about that for a second. It's amazing how much James and Smokey the Bear align? I'm just telling. I'm just saying. Think about it for a second, right? How fast can just one word, spark, or set off an argument in a contentious situation? You can control those words. Guys, I can tell you for somebody who speaks a lot of words in a day, you know, coaching people, guiding people, leading teams, all that kind of stuff. That there are times I've learned not to talk, not to speak not to give opinions not to, you know, put information out there, that's going to cause somebody problems, right? Why? Because not only does it create that spark and that fire for somebody else, but it causes the same thing to come back in my direction. So if you do not want unnecessary stress and anxiety, take caution with your words. Take caution with the things you say. In fact, what would be better? Choose a positive approach with your words. What if you spoke positive stuff, even when people are wanting to be negative? I'm not saying that you know become contentious with somebody put something out there, that's a complaint and you're like, well, you should be more positive. That's not what I'm talking about. Again, you don't have to respond to everything. But what would happen if you spoke positives into situations or life or just you know in conversation period. So we've dealt with what not to do, but what should we do instead? That is what we're going to talk about up next.

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So we are talking about avoiding unnecessary stress and anxiety at this holiday time. Here's something you need to know scripture is not telling us to ignore the social problems of our day. I am not telling you to ignore the social problems of our day. That is not what I'm saying. What scripture is showing us is how to engage the problems. And the people that we face. James 119:20 says this, "my dear brothers and sisters, take note of this, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires."

So being angry over stuff that is unjustified. And by that what I mean is biblically justified. So if there are things that are happening to people that are hurting people that are unjust, that go against God, there is righteous anger, but getting in and sparking arguments for the sake of argument. That's not righteous. That's not helping. Right? That's a different thing to go stand for a cause and fight. To get the cause changed, you know, to get the situation changed. But it's completely another thing to just sit and argue with people. That's not righteousness. You should be quick to listen and slow to speak, you should be very slow to become angry.

If you are finding yourself getting angry, then guess what? You are not being righteous. You are not focused on being godly. Instead, you're allowing something to get to you so fast, that you blow up. This is an important piece of perspective for you to have, especially as you go and spend time with family. For those of you who, for those of you that know that spending time with family is going to be difficult, right? Instead, what could you do instead of getting angry? Could you listen? Could you understand? Could you take a look at the person's perspective and where they're coming from? What's their life situation? What are the circumstances involving them? Have they been in a ridiculous situation of lock-down in their home, are bad things are happening? You know, maybe they're they've lost the job. Could you look at what's affecting them and causing them to respond the way that they are? If so, then what that perspective, maybe you can do something else instead of being angry.

Maybe you could love Romans 13:2 says it this way, "do not owe anyone anything except to love one another." So let's kind of take a look at what that looks like. And for all of you that have been, you know, Christians for a long time we all know 1 Corinthians 13, "Love is patient, it is kind, it does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude." Let me say that part again. It is not arrogant, or rude. It does not insist on its own way.

People are selfish, selfish people. Me included! Every time we insist on our own way, we are not being loving. And it is not irritable, or resentful. Love is none of that. So if you find yourself, not being patient, not being kind. If you find yourself envying something that somebody has or something somebody is experiencing, if you find yourself needing to boast about yourself and tell people how amazing you are and how great you are and all the incredible things you've done and how everybody you know, is all, you know, super high, important people.

And if you're finding yourself being arrogant, if you find yourself being rude, if you find yourself insisting on having your way and must be my way, I've got to have my way. If you find yourself being irritable or resentful, then you're not being loving.

So choose love. Be patient, be kind, don't focus on yourself. Don't focus on yourself. Don't focus on yourself. How can I love you? If I'm focused on me? Alright. Got punch time. Let's take inventory again, where do you see yourself in this list? So if you think about it, as you're looking, you know, some of you are bracing already. And you're still a few days away from spending time with family that may cause stress may cause anxiety, right?

25:59 Self-awareness
Where do you see yourself in that list? How do you see responding? What are your expectations of what's going to happen? Right? So here are the rewards. If we follow scripture, then there are some amazing things that happen. The first of those things is self-awareness. If we focus on what we are doing wrong instead of somebody else, and what we are not doing, right, and how we are not loving, and how we are being selfish, and how we are being rude or arrogant, if we will focus on ourselves, then we will be so much more self-aware of how we step into potentially stressful situations, we will be so much more aware of how we step into potential family situations. Even business situations, right.

So one of the great things is it gives you heart freedom. Because you're aware, you know yourself, it brings more fullness to you because you're not focused on what's wrong with this other person that allows you to recognize where you are, and then change, you fix you remove some of your responses. We hear we talk about the surface level responses. We talk about the lies and the negative self-talk about recognizing what's the negative thing that you're saying to yourself at the time? Or what's the lie you're telling yourself? And then why are you telling yourself that? And then what's the truth to that? Why? How do you beat the crap out of that negative self talk and get it out of your head and go to truth as fast as you possibly can. The sooner you do that, the more self control you will have. And folks, self control doesn't limit us. It frees us as Jocko willing says, discipline equals freedom. Let me say that, again. Discipline equals freedom. The more discipline you are and how you respond, the more freer you are. So let me point it out in a negative spiritual sense, the more you can't control you going into a discussion, the less freedom you have. Why? Because you allow yourself to be controlled by the situation or the circumstance, instead of controlling your own thoughts, instead of controlling you, discipline equals freedom. Another reward is deeper relationships. The more you're self aware, the more you can see where you need healthy boundaries. Right? The more you can see that there are certain situations that you need to step up and put some healthy boundaries in place or some situations you need to remove yourself from or some anxieties that you need to not partake in, right? That helps you to have a deeper relationship with somebody when you have good healthy boundaries with somebody who needs it. By the way, you might be that person that needs the healthy boundary. Just think about that as well. So if you see somebody setting healthy boundaries with you, during this family time, be self aware. Check it out, maybe you're the one who needs the healthy boundaries set, right. But it helps you to have a deeper relationship with somebody when when we can see that the boundaries are there and they're healthy. They're not unhealthy boundaries. They're not unhealthy walls. It reduces strain in conversations that it enriches them more. Because when you're not spending time, beating each other up with words. When you're not spending your time trying to create anxiety, then what happens? You get to actually enjoy each other more. And so, are you putting positive influences in your life? Do you have healthy, positive people in your life? If you don't, why not? If what's going through your mind is Chris those people wouldn't want to have me around. You're incorrect. The healthier you get as an individual, the more you'll want to lift other people up as well. But here's the key. To be around positive, healthy people. You have to choose to stop the bad thoughts, the negative crap. Take a look at the influences that you're getting through movies, music, whatever else, social media to be healthy, stop putting the negative stuff in. Stop putting the mind bending crap in right, choose positive influences, where you spend your time do those things hang around positive people put in positive influences, you will start to see a considerable drop in your stress and anxiety. Another fantastic reward. And I'm going to finish up with this here.

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Blessings of obedience. Christian people. I want you to understand I want you to I want you to spend time researching God's word, not somebody on a pulpit, not somebody on the platform. I want you to spend time researching God's Word on this. Don't take something that somebody has used to twist scripture into not having to be obedient to God. There's two pieces that you must understand Jesus says this himself go look up Matthew 517 through 1917 through 20. And just just process on that. Here's two things I want you to understand. Obedience will never lead to salvation. It can't. If it could, the law would have been enough. However, salvation is supposed to drive us to obedience to God. So here's what I want you to look at that. And I want you to look at this piece. Every time you see curses spoken about in the Bible. What is it focused around? Every time you see blessings, what is it focused around? Here is what you will discover. God is clear. be disobedient. Get curses, be obedient. Get blessings. He is a loving father, for all of you out there that are parents. Think about it. If your child goes against you, I want you to go clean your room? No. Oh, really? Well, let's see how that's gonna work out for you. There's going to be a curse that comes along with this. If your child is going to be obedient, I want you to clean your room. You got it? I'm on it. Oh, fantastic, great. You're going to get a blessing, a reward for for being obedient. That's how God sees us. Right? So there is blessing with being obedient to God's word. The more you follow the scriptures that I've shared with you, the more in tune with God you will be the more you're going to be experiencing his peace. While the reason why I don't like to go hang out with the family is because it's just not peaceful. Why not? Is it because you're playing a part in the contention is it because you're allowing the stress and anxiety to hit and you're, you're participating? Here's a great thing. Follow the scripture verses that I've shared with you and you'll you'll be amazed at the blessing of experiencing God's peace during that time. You will be experiencing his joy. Now listen, I'm not happy when I'm around my family. Happiness is a choice. It's a choice. It's a choice is a choice. You have to choose to be happy, no ifs, ands or buts about it. joy comes from the Lord. If you are obedient to Him, guess what you experience, his joy. If you're obedient, and all of these things, and you're not locked down having to try and come up with all of your arguments and your retorts and all this stuff. If you're removing that from your thought process, and you're being obedient to Him, guess what you hear his voice. There is absolute pleasure in obeying God's will. And here's the crazy thing, folks. He is your father. He wants you to win. He wants you to be blessed. He wants you to be in tune with him. He wants you to experience His peace, his joy, hear his voice. He wants all of those things for you. So during this time, yes, yes, yes, yes, I get it. I understand. There's a lot of stress. There's a lot of anxiety out there. There's a lot of crap that's happening. I get it. I understand. Choose. Choose how you approach every bit of it. Remove the crap that doesn't need to be going into your mind. Remove The the platform's for arguments and fights and all that junk. Hold your tongue listen more. Don't be quick to argue, don't be quick to get angry. Focus on being obedient to what God is telling you to do. If you do these things, then I can promise you, you will have considerably less stress and considerably less anxiety and a time that has a decent amount of stress and anxiety. So as I've shared everything with you, you're hearing you're hearing

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me say, don't focus on you, but focus on you. So please come to understand what I'm saying is don't focus on you selfishly so that you can win in arguments and win in discussions. Focus on you selflessly. And how you control you and how you control your thoughts, and how you respond to situations. The more you do that, when it's not about a win for you, and amazing thing happens, you get a win in the god category. You get blessings from God. So focus on you to fix you not focus on you to go win wars, right. So if you do these things, you will be amazed at the blessings that come from God. Well, folks, again, I want to say that we here understand, we we get it, we know what you're going through, we want you to have a happy holiday season. Not only do we want you to have a happy and joyous holiday season, we want you to be an influence for the positive on all of those that you come across. So as always, take this information, change your leadership, change your business, change your life, and join us on the next episode.

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