Too often, being around our families triggers old wounds and old resentments, and we’re left feeling hollow and empty realizing that we can’t even get along at the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
The biggest problem with this image is that it’s a set up for an idealized version of life that for most people, just doesn’t exist. So understand that and take this very important piece of advice:
Take you and your family off the hook. Lower your expectations. Stop telling yourself that “this is how it should be.” Stop “Shoulding” all over yourself. Whenever you start using words like “this is how it should be,” that’s when you’re going to have trouble. Lower your expectations and don’t demand that your family has to act in a particular way.
So included in this are things like…
Limit your alcohol intake. Do what you can to limit your Drunk Uncle’s imbibing. Things can go off the rails pretty quickly when people have had too much holiday cheer.
What if you simply didn’t go? This is a somewhat radical idea– what if you made the decision to simply not partake at all in the holiday celebration, to simply not go, not participate. Would it maybe be better to not subject your children to your Drunk Uncle and his cutting remarks? Would it be healthier for you to not subject yourself to your mother’s constant criticism?
Before you automatically say no to this, let’s just think about it for a while. If you already know what you’re walking into, why decide to do that? Well, it might start a family fight and you don’t want that to happen, but are there some ways around that? Could you take your mother out for a Christmas lunch instead? Or do some other kind of outing with your kids?
It’s your life. It’s your mental health and peace. There is no law that says you have to spend your precious holiday time with people who are going to be difficult to be around. I’m not saying we should stop all family gatherings, what I am saying is that we don’t have to do them the same old way.
And that starts by you deciding, as I said before: How do I want to feel?
I’m assuming you want to feel happy and connected. So let’s talk about some ways that can happen if you decide that you do want to be with your family.
As I said before, Lower your expectations. Decide that your goal is to simply feel okay about everything.
Decide to love your family just the way they are. That’s what you want also, right? You want your family to love you just the way you are, right? So start by loving them just the way they are.
Spend some time to think about each person you’re going to be seeing. On the ones you actually like and love, spend a few minutes thinking about what you like and love about them.
And now here’s where it gets interesting. Then spend some time thinking about the ones who you know are going to drive you crazy. Think about what it is that drives you crazy about them, what are the things they’re going to do that you just know are going to trigger you?
Then spend some time doing a quiet meditation about this. See yourself in the situation and see the person doing what it is that they do that bugs you. And then visualize yourself not getting upset, just sort of stepping back, or rising above it as you chuckle to yourself, “yep, they did it again.” But see yourself just not getting all worked up over it.
And then let’s go deeper still. Think about them and try to get some idea about why they act this way. If they’re a pompous know-it-all, they probably are actually very insecure underneath all that. See and try to feel yourself sending them love and some compassion. See yourself again, interacting with them and sending them love while you’re talking to them. And then see what happens when you actually get together with them.
If this is someone who has done something in the past to hurt you, find my video on Ho’oponopono to understand this process. Suffice it to say, this is an ancient technique from the Hawaiian kahunas, that is incredibly simple, but very powerful. Just think of this person and the situation a bunch of times before the holiday get together and say to yourself over and over:
Please forgive me
I love you
This process is incredible and it might just bring you some amazing results. If it does, please let me know.
These things I’ve talked about can actually move the energy completely around in your family situation.