3 Tips to Enjoy Family This Holiday

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Holidays can feel more like an obligation than a joy. Having to deal with family and old hurts that get triggered make it tough to celebrate. Maybe you love the festivities but you dread having to see a certain family member. That one person who gets under your skin can ruin the fun if you let it. 

Here are some tips to keep things civil and create a more peaceful holiday for you and them. 

1. Watch Those Expectations

Does this sound familiar?

Your brother-in-law starts talking politics again. Dad starts drinking way before you get there and it shows. Your mother-in-law starts criticizing the way you keep house.

Family time can be difficult when there's leftover tension or resentment. Going into the holidays expecting others to change sets you up for disappointment. There are certain aspects of family life that still hurt. How you manage that hurt can make or break the holidays - and that’s what you’ll learn in this blog.

Handling holiday family expectations

Practice Acceptance

Practicing acceptance doesn't mean you like or approve of their behavior. Instead, stop trying to change them. No matter what you do, you can’t stop someone from drinking themselves under the table or prevent your mother-in-law’s criticism. If someone else’s drinking bothers you click here to read Detachment For Surviving Addiction.

How you react is the only thing you have the power to change.

Having minimal expectations while practicing acceptance are the keys for creating happier holidays.

Stop focusing on what your mother said last year. When you do that you prevent yourself from seeing the good this year. Can you relate?

When you accept your family as they are, you give up the struggle. It becomes easier to enjoy the holidays because you aren't focusing on the bad or trying to change the outcome.

Realizing that they may never meet your needs is part of acceptance. Taking those needs somewhere else is self-care.

2. Handle Resentments Beforehand

How can you deal with Aunt Cathy who is always rude to you? Or, your mother-in-law who tends to control everything?

Here are your menu options: find a way to deal it, keep stewing or let it go.

It takes courage to deal with the hurt and resentment directly. Writing is a great way to express the hurt without being censored. After you do some “journal venting” find the part you have played in the situation.

It may be something you did or said before the incident or in reaction to it. Either way, owning your part lessens the resentment and builds empathy.

Consider letting the person know what upset you. State what they did and how you felt about it. Let them know how you feel instead of "how they made you feel" which invites defensiveness. Stick to the facts of what happened to avoid blame.

Is someone you love struggling with addiction? Check out my online course for Surviving the Holidays When Your Loved One Is Addicted.

Don't bring up anything else. It'll go better if you don't bombard them with past hurts.

3. Stick to Neutral Topics

With hot topics like politics causing relationship tension, finding neutral topics is critical. Agreeing to disagree is necessary when you’re on opposite sides.

If you start reacting, check out what you're hearing. Assumptions are made in an instant. Don't let your mind run away to that negative "stinking thinking" place. 

If you anticipate conflict: 

  • Plan ahead.

  • Suggest a different topic to keep the peace.

  • Drive your own car in case you need to leave.

  • Make a different choice like go play with the kids.

  • Offer to get something at the store to remove yourself.

  • Text someone for support.

  • Bring a funny movie to light the mood.

  • Play a neutral game.

Being light and polite goes a long way here. Creating a peaceful holiday starts with you! Don't overstay if things are getting tense. Your family may never change - but you can! 


I’ve created a private resource library including 20 Ways to Detach When You Need A Break and 15 Steps to Setting Healthy Boundaries plus lots more! Click the image to get access now!

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