Too tense.One of the few jokes in my life I’ve ever been able to remember is this one:

A person goes to the psychologist and says, “Doc, I am having a problem. One day, I think I am a teepee. The next day, I think I am a wigwam. And then it is back to teepee the following day. This just keeps having over and over. Teepee, wigwam, teepee, wigwam. What’s wrong with me?

The doctor says, “It is actually quite simple. Too tents.”

HAHA! Get it? You can probably imagine why this is one I remember, since being ‘too tense’ has appeared maybe once or twice in my life and kept me from being positive and productive. Maybe you’ve been too tense a time or two as well. Just sayin’….

From the time we were little kids, my youngest brother would sometimes warn my other brother and me that he was feeling ‘tensey,’ i.e., “too tense/tents.” We knew when he said this that we needed to settle down, back off, or otherwise keep from adding to his tension. I would love to tell you that we were all such loving children that we always did that, but in general, we did. John and I knew that when David said this, it was a warning and a statement that thoughtful people would heed.

What do you need to say when you’ve gotten too tense? Frankly, I use the word “tensey” with my husband to let him know (in case he hasn’t already figured it out) that I’m feeling a bit over the top. What do you say (or do you even notice?) And what does your tension come from? May I suggest that you

Distinguish whether your tension is coming from an expectation about yourself that is distant from who you really are.

There’s a Chinese Proverb that states,

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”

Many people’s tension at the “holiday” time of the year comes from ridiculous and irrational expectations about food, gifts, appearance, attendance, accomplishment, priorities, and pretty much everything else. It’s nuts, I say!

Now, this is not to say that you shouldn’t travel during the holidays, that you shouldn’t get together with family or friends, or that you shouldn’t give gifts. But here’s the question:

Are you doing what leads to calm, positive interactions or are you doing what leads to insane, inauthentic get-togethers, with the thought of lots of re-gifting afterwards? You’re the only person who can make that determination. I’m not Scrooge. I just listen to people who bemoan ‘having to go here,’ ‘having to do that,’ stressing about this, and so forth. If you’re getting together with friends for the holidays, then they are your friends when you’re relaxed. If they aren’t and they’re only friends with you when you’re tense and being someone else, then….hmmm…think about it.

I encourage you to truly distinguish whether you are being YOU or are being someone else. If it’s been so long since you were yourself without tension, then this could take awhile to find yourself. Take that time… You might really like what you find.

And if you are well aware that you - or those around you - are a bit freaked-out (to one degree or another) and you can see that it is taking a toll, then you’re invited to join the Staying Positive Society where you can access tools for yourself or your team. You can find out all about it at

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