I just love family gatherings! It makes me think of festive food, lively libations, cozy and crazy conversations, liberating leisure time, big belly laughs and making magical memories…ahhh!
I can’t help but smile when I think of all of that juiciness!! Though, I admit, my smile fades a little as we plan differently for this year. Days before Christmas won’t find us packing up the car and the kids and making the journey out to visit our families. Christmas Eve just won’t be the same without my father in-law’s singing, and nothing can truly replace the amazing mix of my mom’s cooking on Christmas Day.
That said, we’ll be finding new ways to make this year special. Through all of this planning and unplanning, an interesting question came to mind. What about the people who are not all that sad to see your holiday festivities be cancelled? What if you’re secretly (or not so secretly) tickled to have an excuse to miss out on all of the supposed merriment?
The truth is, some gatherings with the fam jam just aren’t all that rosy.
LOVE THE HOLIDAYS, BUT HATE THE DRAMA?
Why the drama?
Unhealthy family dynamics, tension from financial worries, gossip, unresolved matters, difficult relationships, a sense of loss, and, oh, that’s right, a PANDEMIC– can rouse a sleeping giant of built-up resentment, turning cozy conversations into energy-draining drama. Plus, there was no class in school on “effective communication”!
CREATE A DRAMA-FREE ZONE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!
- Stop acting! Don’t play a starring (or supporting) role in the drama; it harms both you and others. If you are starring in the drama, find out what you’re getting from it. Be honest with yourself. Is it the attention? Some excitement? An ego boost? A sense of control? Revenge? Pity? AND, is it worth it? Drop the role of hero, or victim, or villain, and take the conversation up a notch to a healthy, energy-boosting level. If you don’t have it in you to do that, simply remove yourself from the conversation altogether and do something for yourself that creates positive vibes only!
- Mourn your losses. Family gatherings can sometimes remind us of losses we have experienced. Loss of social connection, freedom, and even the loss of a family member can bring up some pretty painful stuff. If not compassionately addressed, the accumulation of stress and tension from a sense of loss can manifest as ugly thoughts and behaviours toward others.
- Connect with someone you are comfortable talking to. I am struck by how much loss resembles longing. Moving from a sense of loss to explore the longing it signifies, can reorient us to our priorities and our most important values.
- Drop the judgments. Do you judge your relatives for their relationship choices, political ideologies, how they dress, their constant complaining, or even judge them based on their judgments of you? Experience the freedom of taking an honest look at your own judgements and releasing them from your already busy mind. Try this practice to release your triggers. It’s like taking your mind to the spa…And who couldn’t go for a mental spa day right about now?!
- Bless the good. Silently (or openly!) send genuine good wishes to each of your family members. Unfurrow your brow, unclench your fists, relax your belly, throat and mind. Use that energy to bless them with goodness. It will deepen your connection with yourself and others, and you’ll feel the drama dissipate.
- Give Gratitude. Family, for many of us, reminds us of what it means to be human: the good, the bad and the ugly. For each person, express a quality that you are thankful for. Give special thought to the endearing qualities of those whose actions tend to trigger you the most.
While the holiday season looks a lot different to most of us, the happiness we wish to feel can remain the same. And if you happen to be someone who is grateful for having a reason to keep away from family this year, consider what it would mean for you and for them to get to the bottom of the drama and move forward into the New Year with a lighter, happier heart. If you’d like to connect with us to share ideas on how to approach a specific situation, please book a time with me!
Notice that these tips are all about what YOU can do and who YOU can be. That was on purpose! 🙂 It means that when you ditch the drama, mourn your losses, drop the judgments, bless the good and give thanks, you’re taking control of your health and happiness. And that spreads joy like you can’t imagine! I know this isn’t the easiest, and might scare the heck out of you. We’re here for you, and have designed our Confident Leadership Program specifically to build your ability and confidence in approaching challenging conversations!
Wishing you safe and Happy Holidays!
Dale and Trev