Christmas! I hate Christmas!!!

These were the words of a *friend who did a system interview with me late last year. We were identifying what was currently true about her family system and the most obvious and painful reality was that Christmas was a difficult holiday to navigate with any success. As we explored why that was so, it soon became evident that her family had an extensive list of unspoken rules that governed the holiday. We started to list the rules and soon filled up one page, then another with all the activities, behavior and expectations that had become the norm for Christmas with the family.

After filling the second page, we stopped and reflected on what had been listed so far. Hmmm…one family member always got sick and didn’t come to Christmas day family events, another family member was expected to dress up in a funny costume for the younger kids, Christmas day itself was frenetic because it had to be celebrated with mom’s family and dad’s family at separate times and locations, extravagant gifts were expected, etc.

Acknowledging that these rules existed was huge. Here was an example of a potential place in my friend’s family system where a small change could make a big difference (a leverage point). After reflecting some more on the rules that had come to light, my friend had some decisions to make.

What rules did she actually like? Which rules did she not want to follow anymore? What rules would she like to create for the Christmas holidays? Here was where the rubber met the road…she was at full choice on how she would relate to the family and the family rules.

This was a place of leverage for my friend and she took the challenge to utilize it by choosing how she would relate to these rules from now on.

What about you? Think of a system that you are currently a part of (family, community, work, city, church, non-profit, etc.), allow yourself some reflection time to notice what rules are present in this system and list the rules that come to mind – both spoken and unspoken. What did you discover? Were you surprised?

Now, which rules do you want to support? Which rules do you want to change? Which rules will you address in the system? How will you live your life differently now that you are more aware of and conscious of the rules that run your system…and maybe even run you?

My challenge: Pick one rule that you want to address and take action. Which one will it be?


Please let me know if you take the challenge…and what happened!!!

*Shared by permission.