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The holiday season is upon us- and no matter what and how you celebrate you’re likely going to face some family stuff! And, while this time of year is meant to be full of joy and excitement, for many of us it’s also the harbinger of family tension, stress, weight gain, and emotional upheaval. So much gets triggered at this time of year, especially for those of us who are empaths and feel all the subtle forms of energy around us, and the obvious not so subtle energy as everyone behaves in extremes.
Over the past week, it seems everyone I’ve talked with is on edge about the holidays. So, I’m going to share how you can create a better experience for yourself this holiday season, and any other stressful time for that matter. First, let’s talk about the joys of family gatherings.
A friend was recently telling me about her trip to visit family for Christmas a while back. Growing up, holidays had always been a disaster (I won’t even go into detail!), but she convinced herself that this visit would be a new beginning—after all, over a decade had passed and all those old issues were long gone… at least, it seemed. Determined to have the warm family gathering she’d always longed for, she arrived at her parents’ festively decorated country home to find mom was completely worn out and had started smoking again, dad was holed up in the TV room with his third beer, and her brother and sister weren’t talking. As they all sat down for dinner that night, the bickering drowned out the holiday music and all the old personal grievances and grudges surfaced. Everyone reverted to their old roles as if it were 1990 again. It was so bad that no one spoke for the next month.
Can you relate to my friend’s experience? I certainly can. In the past, a lot of my own family’s get-togethers during the holidays came with sorrow and loss and fighting and booze and opinions and accusations shouted without cause like we all had Turrets. We were all at the same time trying so hard to make it different to no avail. Who put acid in the ice cream and sarcasm in the sauce?
Even gatherings of so-called happy families can simmer with tension during this time of year, with everyone’s personal “stuff” knocking against each other.
But, beyond the rivalries, judgments, and letdowns, our relatives often beckon us to look at parts of ourselves that we thought we outgrew. Decades after we leave home, our families tend to pull us back into old roles that have little to do with who we are today. Even for those of us with relatives who have passed on, those old family legacies have a way of creeping back into our psyche during this time of year. Memories, regrets, and unresolved pain can make the holidays difficult.
So, what can we do? I know from personal and professional experience that with the right tools, you can use the holidays as an opportunity to rise above old family patterns, dial down the drama and grow into a stronger, more loving person in the process. Here are my best tips for doing just that:
You cannot change what has been or what is. So often we unconsciously try to change or fix what has happened in the past through holiday gatherings. Healing comes with accepting what is and changing our reactions and perceptions about it. Many of us also long for a relative to change. You cannot single-handedly get your mother to take a chill pill or your father to be more loving, but you can change how you react.
Resentment, anger, shame, and all those negative emotions keep you stuck in the past and feed your Goblin. The more you see yourself as a victim, the more you stay stuck in pain. Remember, you can make a choice to forgive—it’s a gift you give yourself.
I am not writing this from theory. I have done every single thing here and it has changed me in ways I wasn’t even expecting. My memories have changed because my compassion for myself and others has enabled me to change my perspective and perception. What was once so painful then has now had a chance to heal. Love the whole holiday hairball, practice self-care and know this too shall pass!!!
Have a beautiful one!