Most people get excited around the holidays. The time with family, shopping, eating, music, festivities, parties. You name it they like it ALL! But not everyone! For many the holiday seasons bring up memories of heartbreak, disappointment and loss. If you are reading this blog, it’s probably because you lay somewhere between hating the holidays or looking for strategies that will help you tolerate them.

Maybe the holidays remind you of a lost loved one or a relationship gone bad. Maybe it’s a reminder of the financial burden that’s imposed behind trying to live outside of your means. Well let’s make this year different. Let’s focus on what we have to be thankful for. Let’s focus on the things that made us smile this year instead of the things that made us cry.

This year I’m excited to be healthy both physically and mentally. My young adults are doing well and living life in harmony with me and each other. I have a job that I love and a business that is thriving. My 2nd book has been published and is doing extremely well. I’ve replaced the toxic relationships in my life with those that nurture and serve me. Life is turning around and for the first time in few years, I’m excited about where I’m headed.

See what I mean! You can do the same. Find the things to be thankful for. Don’t get caught up in what was wrong. There are so many things you can be thankful for!

But how do you deal with those family functions that can strip holiday cheer from Ole St. Nick himself. Or the family dinners that make being in the room with the Grinch a welcome excursion. The holidays are moments to celebration NOT punishment!

Here are four (4) tips that could make it a little easier:

1. Have Intentions not Expectations. Most disappointments are the result of setting expectations that are out of your control. But setting an intention allows you to create the environment you desire. Expectation says Aunt Martha is going to come to the family dinner and complain about all her physical ailments. Uncle Joe is going to get drunk and curse everyone out. The newlyweds are going to trigger the thoughts that you are spending this holiday alone again. Intention say as each person arrives have them write down two things they are grateful for and place them in a cup by the front door. If the dinner starts going south, pull out the jar and read the things you as a family have to be grateful for. Because as a family, what affects one affects ALL.
2. Set Boundaries. If being around Aunt Martha’s complaining and Uncle Joe’s intoxication is offensive, channel the discussions and eliminate the alcohol this year. It’s your party you can do what you want to! If you know sitting directly across from the newlyweds will cause you issues. Arrange to be in a seat that prevents them from being in your direct point of view. When Cousin Betty starts the conversation of how great your ex is doing. Kindly let her know you don’t want to discuss him and change the subject to something uplifting. Control conversations that are directed to you. Set boundaries of things that are a trigger to you. Remember your priority is to get through these holidays intentionally and with your sanity.
3. Be Present. Many of our issues surrounding the holidays come from “remembering when” or “wondering what if”. This year stay in the moment. You cannot enjoy the wonderful meal you’ve prepared this year wondering when your mother-in-law is going to bring up the turkey you burned three years ago. You are setting yourself up for failure looking at what was. And if she is so petty as to bring it up, laugh and say “I’ve come a long way. Isn’t the turkey this year divine!!”
4. Have an Exit Plan. Sometimes regardless how much intention you have, the toxicity of family can take a toll on you. Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t torture yourself by sitting through all the negativity. This holiday is about giving thanks and if you have to remove yourself from the negative energy – DO SO! If you know your tolerance for certain family members come to an end after about 2 hours, plan to have a friend call your phone. Then kindly excuse yourself letting the family know you have other plans. If you are not able to leave (because well you are hosting the event) create a place in your house you can retreat to for a few minutes to rejuvenate. Maybe have a stress candle in the upstairs bathroom burning and excuse yourself for a moment.  (I plan to have them burning all over my house – just in case!) An associate of mine elected to create an affirmation board that would remind her to stay calm. This allows her a place to retreat should things become more than she could bear.

Don’t become bitter make your life better. Remember the holidays are about celebrating your accomplishments for the year. Don’t sabotage all your hard work trying to impress people you’ve worked hard all year to heal from.

Until Next Time,