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Create a Holiday you LOVE, even if your family is nuts!

3 Easy Steps you can take to not get caught up in the Holiday drama (or really anytime).


It’s that time of year!!!  Christmas is JUST around the corner.  Some of you are thinking-I can’t wait!!

And some of you are thinking-”EEEEEK……  “I just want the day to pass as quickly as possible.”

You may have thoughts such as:

“Christmas would be perfect if Drunk Uncle Dan wouldn’t be there.

“I wish every holiday didn’t have to be ruined by my obnoxious know it all mother in law-she always makes me feel like I do everything wrong.

“I wish we didn’t have to travel so much and have it feel so chaotic.  

“ I wonder how long it will take Grandpa Bob to bring up the current state of affairs.”

I get it, the holidays aren’t quite so magical for everyone.  I love this quote I found recently that sums it up really well

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family!”- Ram Dass

Maybe you’ve had the experience of feeling like you’ve changed and you’re able to be more joyful and positive?  Are you putting to good use some of the “positive thinking” stuff and excited to grow and expand only to find that not everyone shares in your excitement?

You get together with family, and old patterns of behavior show up almost automatically?! I have totally been there.  

It’s literally like putting on an uncomfortable, outgrown, itchy dress.  

You’re trying to grow and put to use all these good things …and then there is this old identity that we seem to step into when we are around certain people.  Mainly old friends and family. It feels like the inside and the outside aren’t matching anymore. The dress you are wearing suddenly feels itchy, uncomfortable and way too small. 

Here are 3 really quick tips to help you navigate through the holidays without losing your mind and all the magic of the season.

GRATITUDE

This holiday season, take time to appreciate all the good things you have in your life. There’s so much to be thankful for, and when you savor the good, you’ll rewire your brain to focus on the positive. 

I invite you to really sit in the present moment and think about ALL you are grateful for and WHY.  I always say WHY is the secret sauce. It’s easy to say…”I’m thankful for my partner, my kids, this cup of coffee.”  BUT WHY???

Perhaps you are grateful for your partner because everyday they get up and they head to a job that they don’t love, but they love being able to provide and to put food on the table.  You see their effort, you see their sacrifice, you see their loyalty and their dedication. Makes a BIG difference right?

It’s easy to get caught up in “should” or fantasies about family life over the holidays.  Thank you pinterest and instagram. We often get caught up in the comparison game and wind up feeling like our holiday is nothing more than a chaotic shit show compared to the perfectly curated version that Sally has over on IG.  

Instead I would invite you to focus on what actually matters TO YOU. Not what you think “should” matter or what Aunt Sally is going to think if you don’t have the perfect centerpiece and cranberry sauce.

Focusing on gratitude can help bring you back to all that actually is going well in your life rather than what’s going wrong. And remember – our brains will typically look for  the negative so this piece is really important.  

SET AN INTENTION

It’s so easy to unravel when Uncle Gary is poking you about the current state of affairs or Grandma Sue is shaming you because of your new tatoo, but with a little practice and giving your mind something to focus on, you really can manage your mood and manage what triggers you

Setting an intention will truly give your mind something to focus on, rather than the chaos and unraveling around you.  

Some examples might be:

I am going to not going to engage in any heated topics.  I will simply walk away.

I am fully capable of managing my mood and emotions by staying positive and optimistic.  

I will not allow myself to be triggered and provoked.  

Setting intentions is like creating a map of where you wish to go. It is the driving force behind reaching what you wish to achieve.

BE THE BUDDHA

Recently I was reading a story of a woman who continuously went home to visit her family for the holidays and tried to share with them how much Buddhism had changed her life.  She was so excited to share her learnings only to end up constantly disappointed as her family lacked interest and didn’t share in her excitement.  

This caused her to feel unseen, unheard and like they really didn’t care about her. It was creating tension and a real sense of disappointment every time she gathered with her family.  

One year,  she came back different.  She came back happy and smiling ear to ear.

When she was asked what was different her response was; 

“Every other visit, I was telling my parents about meditation and how wonderful it is. I was lecturing them about Buddhism. This trip, I just decided to BE the Buddha. And it made all the difference.”

She finally stopped lecturing her parents and just showed up as herself with the new capacities she’d developed through mindfulness. For the first time in several years, her parents became curious and asked; “What’s this meditation stuff all about?”

Here’s the point- you cannot control someone else’s behavior, choices, reactions or behaviors around the holiday table-or really ever for that matter.  But you can control how you respond. You can be the Buddha. Here are a few quick tips to help you decrease the drama and practice some serious self care.

Do not try to control what others think.

Do not try to ‘win’ an argument.

Do not try to force your opinion on someone else.

Do not try to ‘educate’ someone.

Do not allow yourself to engage in mildly heated uncomfortable conversation.

Do try to listen with compassion and understanding.

Do remember that everyone is actually doing the best they can.

Do try to understand the other person’s point of view.

Do practice deep breathing. 

These three tips will have you Rockin’ around the Christmas tree and feeling proud of yourself this year for not engaging in dramatic behavior.  It will help you show up with compassion not only at Christmas, but at the office, in the gym, in your relationships and all aspects of your life.  

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