Holidays represent family to most people. Although individuals report looking forward to seeing family members, there can be a sense of dread associated with some family gatherings. Although Christmas can be joyful, warm and fuzzy, there are many people who anticipate an upcoming meltdown, argument, or some sort of drama when it comes to family Christmas celebrations.
Relationships can cause emotional turmoil. Especially relationships with family members. Whether your own family, your in-laws, step-families or adoptive families, there is generally at least one individual who seems to always flip your trigger switch at family events.
Food for Thought – Holiday Family Gatherings…
1: As much as certain people may get on your last nerve, you can only control your own behavior. You have not been able to nor will you be able to change another person’s behavior. Limit the time you spend with these people and take regular breaks – even if it’s just five minutes to take a breather outside or a short walk around the block.
2: Talk to yourself before you attend the gathering! Calm yourself before you see the person. Remind yourself of the person who generally flips your annoyance switch will more than likely flip your switch again and not to feed into the drama.
3: Before the event. Go for a walk, try some relaxation techniques, go to the gym, workout, take a bike ride, or get a massage and avoid over-scheduling yourself. Set boundaries with yourself prior to the gathering. Know how long you want to stay and when you will leave if there is drama. If you have a significant other, discuss this prior to the function.
4: Realize family gatherings don’t last forever. Be grateful for your family, no matter what they may bring to the table and keep in mind, they will not always be around. Try to be the leader that graciously guides the family members in having a peaceful, loving, happy holiday season. Accept others (and keep your judgment to yourself) for who they are. Tell yourself that you too, are not perfect!
5: Find out what your emotional stressors are and how you are reacting and expressing them. We all carry around emotional trauma and negative thinking patterns – sometimes throughout life. You may find Christmas exacerbates childhood issues that have been lurking beneath the surface. Sometimes just keeping your mouth shut for the time-being – it protects you from feeding into the drama.
6: If you’ve had a relationship break-up, it’s okay to allow yourself to feel sad or miss what the holiday season was like before – particularly if children are involved. Being sad is part of the process of grief and loss. Allow yourself to feel the loss. Don’t allow this to consume you for long periods of time. If so, seek a professional to discuss this.
7: Be more empathetic. Take a few seconds to realize your switch flipper probably have their own issues and their behavior has nothing to do with you or what you can do to fix the problem. Many times, the culprit isn’t concerned about you at all and is focused on themselves anyway.
8: If you know what these people in your life will be like, don’t expect things to be different (and if it is, it’ll be a pleasant surprise). Understand when and where the fights or tension usually occur and how you have dealt with it positively before, and how you’ve dealt with it negatively. Avoid conversations that you know are headed towards a dead end. Be respectful of other family members who are thrown in the middle of the family strife and feel uncomfortable, sad, or disappointed. Know that you have the ability not to get involved or start drama yourself.
9: If you don’t have family or only a few family members you do not see, get involved in public events, volunteer organizations, friend groups, church functions, or neighborhood events. Sitting around and feeling sorry for yourself will only feed the “poor me” attitude. If you are alone, that is normally a choice you have made.
10: Eat before going to a function! You don’t want low blood sugar or to be feeling on edge when you enter a stressful situation. And avoid drinking too much alcohol, which could aggravate an otherwise harmless situation. Be aware of what you are walking into a situation you are dreading and have a personal plan in how you will deal with unnecessary drama. Make a choice not to be part of the dysfunction and offer happiness, love and kindness to the family.
If you find yourself dreading family gatherings during the holidays, give me a call and I will assist you in establishing a plan for success for this holiday season.