Because every family is a little bit insane.
Gathering for the holidays always sounds inviting, but then the special day rolls around and it can bring dread for many.
Staying in a grateful zone when dealing with family can be highly challenging at times. Wouldn't you agree? I mean, we are all aware that we didn't actually CHOOSE our family—or maybe we did. When I am in my contemplative, philosophical mode, we chose them for our greater life lessons. On days like today, that is negotiable!
The holiday season begins the reflective time of the year where we are all calculating our past 11 months, examining whether or not we accomplished what we had set out to do and anxiously anticipating the year ahead, wondering if it will live up to all the expecation we have for it.
While all this is swirling around in our subconscious, we have our families to deal with. Now, I'm not saying our families aren't amazing, loving and loyal; they can just be smothering, stifiling an annoying too. Isn't that what family is, though? A combination of all of it? Afterall, that is their job. No other people on the planet annoy us the way our family does and no other people on the planet make us feel so accepted. Who else is really going to tell you you have broccoli stuck in your teeth?
While I love the holidays, I also panic when I think of all the together time I will be spending with people that like to offer their opinions when I don't ask(don't they know I have feelings?) and think that moving the hair out of my eyes for me is helping. What? So in order to stay sane, I've adopted these three rules of engagement to let me focus on staying grateful for those who I know ultimately care about my well-being.
- Meditate And Breathe Before Entering The Party: This is such a little thing to do in most peoples eyes, but it has truly helped me. Breathing slowly and with intention has the power to calm our nervous system and bring us into a relaxed, centered state. Practice. Inhale for 5 seconds, hold the breathe for 7 seconds, and then exhale slowly for 5 seconds. Do it. It will make a difference.
- Practice Your Blanket Response: What I mean by this is when a family member says something that triggers us, for example, "Wow, have you lost weight?" or "Do you have a job, yet?" responding out of the emotion will only get you in trouble. You'll look immature and half-crazy, (I know, they have pushed you to that point!) but if you develop a one line response to their intrusive questions, you will have a come back and shut them up. For example, the "Wow, have you lost weight?" question could have the response of, "Thanks for noticing. I have taken sugar out of my diet." Stick with the process of how you have lost weight and try not to go into the feelings part of it as that is what will bring up the emotion. Make sense? The process gets them thinking about their own way of eating (most people know they need to be reading lablels more carefully) and keeps your heart protected from their opinions.
- Find A Safe Zone: what I mean by this is find someone that is a neutral party that you can hang with if things get charged for you. That person could be a visiting cousin, sibling or partner that is not as emotionally invested as you are. Go stand by them, engage them in conversation and remove yourself from the annoying charge. If that is not an option for you, set a time limit to your visit. Often when we know we have an out, or a time limint, we are able to better enjoy the time and stay positive and more engaged.
While this time of year is exciting and fulfulling in many ways, it is also challenging dealing with all the personalites that gather under one roof. It's my hope that the above strategies will get you through any holiday gatherings with happiness to spare!