Holiday gatherings can be a very stressful time when unresolved family dynamics are in the mix. Physical and emotional distance often seem to smooth out unpleasant family relationships, yet when you get together all the “old stuff” comes back. Rather than letting family issues ruin your holidays, follow these simple tips.
- Holidays are not the time to work through old hurts. Decide what you are hoping to accomplish, for example, getting through a pleasant dinner without feeling tense. That might require steering away from patterns that trigger tension. Stick to this plan.
- Accept your family for who they are without expecting them to be different. Unrealistic expectations are disappointing. You might be working through your “stuff”, but others might not be.
- Limit your intake of alcohol to ensure you are able to stick to your plan. Overindulging in alcohol has a way of bringing intense emotions to the surface.
- Enjoy the moments that are pleasant and let everything else go.
- Have a positive mantra you repeat to yourself before and throughout the event to keep you on track. For example, I feel great about myself. I am making wonderful changes. Focus on the positive things in your life.
- Stick to the present, enjoying each moment as it comes, rather than dragging up past incidents or worrying about the future.
If you believe your family situation is so unpleasant that it will compromise your well-being it is perfectly ok to let your family know that this year you will be unavailable.
Go into the event with a positive mind and energy, understanding that you can choose how to manage yourself in any situation.