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Transform Dreaded Family Get-togethers into Harmonious Holidays

Prevent Finances, Family Issues and Engrained Beliefs From Ruining Family Fun

Family discord during the holidays is all too common, as epitomized in movies such as Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone and Four Christmases.  According to Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams, author of THE AFFORDABILITY FACTOR: The 4Cs of Change, the holidays may be the best time to start on a new path to ‘affording’ the life you wish to lead.

Dr. Williams writes that the ‘challenging life events’ we all face can change our behavior and lead us to bad habits that negatively impact our lives and relationships. As a prescription for happier, healthier holidays this year, Dr. Williams cites specific steps one can take before, during and after the holidays to move beyond the damages of old wounds and refocus the personal, professional relationship and life goals one wishes to afford.

Before the family gathers for the holidays:

Recognize and eradicate the behaviors and thought patterns such as denial, glossing over, and falling off the radar screen that will lead to an unhappy get-together. 

Next, put into practice the behaviors and thinking that will lead to a transformative holiday event: balanced decision making, affordability, maturity, and embracing reality. 

Apologize for past actions—an apology has immense power to re-set relationship dynamics and allows everyone to move forward. 

During the Thanksgiving or Christmas assembly

Remove any barriers in your thoughts, language, interactions, and expected results: positive thoughts and intentions will lead to positive outcomes.

Arm yourself with a sense of humility and humor instead of defensiveness and anger.

After the holidays:

Review the changes that took place, how attitudes shifted and the overall benefits of using ‘affordability’ at the holidays.  

“Too often, we see our own life’s challenges as rationale or justification to make poor decisions.  We might convince ourselves that we are owed something to make up for the abandonment, loss and difficulties of our lives, or that ‘wrong’ isn’t really wrong when life has been so hard.  However, by reframing the ‘challenging life events’ that shape our lives, we can change our lives for the better,” believes Dr. Williams.

The challenges of Dr. Williams’ own early life were extreme: at the age five, he and his 11 siblings were orphaned when their mother died suddenly.  He was separated from his brothers and sisters, and grew up in the New York City foster care system.  While some might allow these challenging life events to change the course of their lives in negative ways, for Dr. Williams it fueled his desire and drive for achievement.  Today he is a Doctor of Education; CEO of a nonprofit human services organization with a budget of $10 million and 200 employees; foster parent; author; and motivational speaker.   

Increasing one’s “affordability factor”—be it a career decision, choosing a mate or pursuing a dream—allows us to launch ourselves toward our greatest potential with a renewed sense of confidence, direction and determination for success.

About the Book:


By Nathaniel J. Williams, Ed.D, MHS, MPA, MBA

Price: $29.95                                                                                                                                           Available at


Launch Your True Self: COGs Guide to Reframing Challenging Life Events

Every Cool Old Guy (COG) faces countless challenges in his life. There is no way to escape these challenges, and we cannot consciously control many of them. Though they can come in many forms--divorce, death of a loved one, loss of a job, health issues, a particularly embarrassing moment, challenge to our spiritual beliefs or a difficult childhood, for example--all challenging life events have commonalities: they are life-altering and can keep us trapped in the moment for years, consciously or not.

When I examined my own life, I realized that I had been standing at the foot of my mother’s casket for 35 years, grieving her loss in so many ways in my daily life. I realized that in order to let go of it, put it into perspective, and place it in its rightful place in my life, I had to ‘reframe’ it: turn this challenging life event into a positive opportunity for empowerment and enlightenment. First step for any COG is to identify the challenging life event and explore where it may have influenced our life—not easy to do since we are generally blind to this past event’s existence in our present life. For example, you may have experienced a challenging life event that would fall under the theme of ‘protection’ (in which case you did not feel protected) and today, have an aversion to banks, require numerous medical opinions, or are hypersensitive to criticism. You can see how that challenging life event shows up in ways not immediately recognized. 

Using the chart as a guide, recall a past event that had a profound effect on you at the time. Write down your thoughts and feelings as a result of that event, immediately following it or years after. Consider how it may have impacted other areas of your life such as spirituality, family and friends, and financial, as listed on the chart.      

Failure to appreciate the significance of these challenging life events prevents us from reaching our full potential and can exert a lasting impression on others and ourselves. Reframing the event allows us to truly understand it and use it to launch ourselves forward, rather than allowing it to hold us back. For example: a COG who was a victim of childhood abuse might turn the hurt, pain, embarrassment and loss of power and control he suffered as a child into an opportunity to share what he learned and work towards prevention and empowerment of himself and others.

In the case of my mother’s death, I reframed my feelings of abandonment and isolation into the understanding that she had stayed with me as long as she could and didn’t leave before giving me the blueprint to be all I could be. Today, I view my life as a train ride upon which my mother is with me. I imagine that I am taking her to places that surprise her and places she envisioned her children would go.
Use the chart to write down the “old framed” view and associated feelings and thoughts (in my case, feelings of abandonment/isolation) and next to them, the “reframed” feelings and thoughts (my mother already gave me all that I need.) 

The most important aspect of reframing is recognizing that whatever person, place, thing, words, metaphor, character, etc. we use to replace the challenging life event, we must avoid reframed concepts that point fingers, assign blame, refer to our own or others shortcomings, or elicit any other negative connotation. Positioned on a positive and empowering foundation, a truly reframed event is one upon which COGs can build and from which we can launch our true selves. 


Kanye And Serena: Why Are Sore Losers So Sore?

This was a weekend of rants as Kanye West and Serena Williams let their emotions get the best of them, marring what should have been fun and enjoyable entertainment.

“A steamroller levels everything in its way. Serena attempted to steam roll the judge into changing her mind and admonishing her to never make a ‘miscall’ like that again,” states Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams, author of The Affordability Factor: The 4Cs of Change. “Both Kanye and Serena took something that was supposed to be fun—something they love— and turned it into something painful for themselves and others.”

Fortunate to be in the situations they are--with admirers, fans, millions of dollars and doing what they love--Kanye and Serena are winners already. So what causes otherwise rational people to suddenly lose control when things don’t go their way?

“We live in a society that is built on competition, with someone winning and someone losing,” acknowledges Dr. Williams, “It’s on television, radio, and newspapers. It even creeps into communications under our own control: in our verbiage and emails. But when the loser responds in a defensive manner, it shocks us. It shouldn’t though.”

Dr. Williams blames it on what he calls the ‘4Cs of Oppression”: conflict, controversy, comparison, and control, which are universal in all our lives. He believes the exaggerated reactions and lack of humility by West and Williams indicate that what they felt was not based on the current situation, but rather reminiscent of other significant losses, similar ‘challenging life events’ that have never been ‘reframed’ or resolved.

“Unresolved issues can cause the passion one feels over losing to overpower good sense, with regrets later, as with West,” states Dr. Williams. “Until they “reframe” that significant life event, they are destined to continue overreacting to circumstances and squandering opportunities.”