Surviving & Thriving During the Holidays When There is Family Tension
By Annie M.
It’s that time of year when many of us are excited about the holidays. But perhaps you feel differently. Perhaps the holidays are a reminder of the things and relationships that aren’t going well. Instead of being excited, you might actually be dreading the holidays.
I want to encourage you that you aren’t alone. For one reason or another, the holidays can be very difficult. You may feel like there is nothing about this time of year but stress and negative interactions that are completely beyond your control. You’re not alone. Many of us feel like that, but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
As I sat down to listen to a recent Journey Coaching podcast recording, I found myself feeling not only encouraged but excited for the holidays. This time, I had received some helpful tools to enter this holiday season in a way I haven’t before. All too often, I have approached holiday gatherings without a plan or clear set boundaries. Usually this left me feeling out of control, or even worse – attacked.
I want to encourage you that there are some things that you can do to help you thrive during this holiday season. First, anticipate the event before it happens. Recognize what actions or behaviors can be a trigger for you and develop a plan on how to handle those triggers with clear set boundaries. Rehearse your plan and boundaries beforehand and decide practical steps of what you will do should a confrontation arise.
Maybe you are thinking, sounds great in theory, but I’ve tried that and it blew up. Yeah me too. But I learned from this recording something I had never thought about before. I was encouraged to decide now how I want to react before the moment happens and develop a backup plan. I want to encourage you to determine a few backup strategies and implement them should things not go the way you planned. Get away, take a walk, take some deep breaths and stay determined to not let this experience rob you of your joy.
Try to stay focused on the reasons for the holidays. For instance, Thanksgiving is about gratitude. Choose to focus on the things that you are thankful for and those things that are going right. Stay positive by reminding yourself out loud the things that are going well. Perhaps you have a family member who has always been supportive. Focus on your relationship with them and allow that to act as a buffer in the midst of negative interactions. And remember, gratitude is just one thought away.
Lastly, have you checked your expectations. What are they? I want to encourage you to evaluate what they are and why they have them. It is important to remember the reason for the Holiday. Holidays are designed to bring people together. Focus on others, and you may find that you feel a little more joy yourself.
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