Getting past the initial reaction.

This time of year is full of holiday cheer, and I already documented my lack of desire to be involved in that cheer, but its going to happen. I have cute kids, and I want to see those kids in Christmas programs. What I also wish could happen is that those Christmas programs could take place when we are the only family in the room. What I'm really asking is: Can I get a private screening?

You all know why I want a private screening, because for as cute as those kiddos are in the show, the logistics of getting everyone there is a disaster. I'm convinced that if you want to guarantee a disagreement with someone in the family, then pack everyone into the suburban assault vehicle (aka mini-van) and tell them we are going to a Christmas program. I don't know what happens between the car ride and the program, but it feels a little bit like Armageddon.

The other thing I notice is that all of us have an initial reaction. That "go to" feeling and disposition that immediately happens when you are put in an uncomfortable place or challenged in a way that you aren't ready to deal with. My one-year-old's disposition is to arch her back and start screaming at the top of her lungs (everyone at the program really appreciated that, by the way). For my three-year-old, he just wants to climb into someone's lap. And for me, I want to immediately assume a defensive position. I get to this place where I need to make sure that I can exit, I can't be hurt, and I can feel like I am in control. Another perfect example is when my wife tells me to put away my clothes (and she means right now). I know I need to put away my clothes, but something about her tone throws me into that initial reaction. Something about being told what I am "supposed" to do (even though she is right) puts me on the defensive.

After an honest assessment (and only after that honest look) I can start to see where that reaction is coming from in my life. Normally it's coming out of my desire to protect myself, and be in control.

The control part is probably the most important part for me. When I am uncomfortable or vulnerable, I fight for control. There is nothing wrong with this; its just who I am. Understanding it makes the next action step critical.

When I understand how I react it frees me up to put it down. The more and more I learn about relationships the more I realize that getting past the initial reaction is also getting to the good stuff. Sure, I should protect myself from things that might be harmful to me emotionally, but if I really care about the relationship then my goal is to put down the control and show them what I'm really feeling. To move from initial reaction to honesty. (about why I'm reacting that way)

Is this going to help me with the chaos of the mandatory Christmas program? Probably not, but what it will do is help those relationships in my life better deal with me, dealing with it.

How do you react? What is your "go to" reaction when pressed or challenged? How does that impact your relationships?