Sigmund Freud believed that one of the primary explanations for human behavior could be attributed to the fear of death.  My favorite poem on the subject is called “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. It tells the story of a traveler who encounters the scattered pieces of a colossal sculpture, created in the image of a once great and powerful king. The moral of this poem is that glory (and everything else) is fleeting in death’s shadow.

In that optimistic spirit (sarcasm), I wanted to talk about the coming holidays. As we meet with friends and family, we might begin to notice that our relationships aren’t as idyllic as the ones we find in movies and on TV. More realistically, as human beings, it is natural that we identify with our egos – our identities and sense of self. We become invested in being right or wrong in our opinions and concerned with the way others perceive us…what they think about us. Just as we are concerned with these things, so too are our loved ones around us. And, wow, isn’t that the perfect storm for conflict?

So, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Here’s the list of (modified) rules to follow to stay out of conflict with your friends and loved ones this season. Conveniently, they fit into the acronym T.H.I.N.K. Keep in mind that they’re easy to read, but not always so easy to follow. Watch yourself as you speak to your friends and family this holiday season, and ask yourself these questions in your conversations:

  • T: Is what I’m going to say True?
  • H: Is what I’m going to say Helpful?
  • I: Am I the person to say this?
  • N: Is Now the best time to say this?
  • K: Is what I’m saying Kind?

If you can keep to these simple rules during your dealings with loved ones, I expect that you will find yourself in less conflict with them this season. To bring this message full circle, I ask that you consider a famous quote from Maya Angelou: When you die, “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

On that note, I wish you successful practice of the T.H.I.N.K. rules and a very happy and healthy holiday season. If you find yourself having trouble practicing T.H.I.N.K. or responding to others’ ability to T.H.I.N.K. this holiday season, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.


LECS Counselor