It’s that time of year again. Whether for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Hanukkah (or maybe all three!), it’s time to go home for the holidays. If you’re approaching the prospect of having a lot of quality family time with a heart full of peace and joy, good for you! Go forth, be merry, and enjoy the heck out of it. But for those who are feeling that cold finger of dread running down their spine and have already started constructing those walls of defensiveness, here’s a little holiday survival guide that will not just help you cope, but will give you some tools that will allow you to truly enjoy yourself.
Okay, so spending a few days (maybe just one night) with your family sounds like a daunting task. But just remember, the emotional patterns you struggle with, which were built within your family during childhood, get seriously lit up at just the thought of spending time with your people. That’s because, without even thinking about it, we revert to our child-selves when we engage with the people and places from our childhood. Whatever emotional seeds were planted in those early years, unworthiness, shame, fear, etc., come racing forward and we’re left feeling powerless, voiceless, and without agency, or the opposite—downright rebellious! You know, like a kid. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. YOU get to decide the experience you’re going to have. It’s just a matter of tapping into your training and utilizing the tools in your kit.
As with everything we do here, it begins by setting a vision for how you want to experience the holidays and what you’re going to bring to the space. Before you even book those tickets, pick one key emotion you want to embody as you mingle with the clan. Maybe it’s peace, maybe it’s compassion, maybe it’s just an abundance of love. Whatever it is you want to bring to the table, name it now and spend the next several weeks tuning it up. Using imagination and memory, practice lighting up that emotion. When you feel it strongly in your nervous system, imagine yourself walking into the family gathering. Texturize the image with the smells and sounds and feel of the place. The aroma of the turkey roasting in the oven. The soothing crackle of flames in the fireplace. The sound of the football game playing in the living room. The overwhelming scent of Uncle Jerry’s cologne.
See yourself talking and connecting over dinner. See the cast of characters being exactly who they are, and you holding your centered peace (or whatever emotion you choose). Rationalize and justify your state by repeatedly completing the sentence, “I feel (your emotion) with family because…” Mom’s going to make her annual proclamation that she’s still waiting for grandkids. That’s okay, “I feel peace because...” Grandpa’s going to make that backhanded compliment that infers you should be further along in your career. That’s okay, “I feel love because...” Cousin Darryl is going to give you that hug that lingers a little too long and then exclaim that he just can’t believe you’re still single. That’s okay, “I feel compassion because...”
Remember, whatever emotional state you want to hold is yours for the taking. Your family members are simply going to be the people they’ve always been and probably always will be. It’s not your job to change them, fix them, or control them. All that you can control is how you behave in the space and how you react to what’s happening around you. Use that 4-sided breath to keep the nervous system in a parasympathetic response and decide that you’re not only going to get on this rollercoaster, you’re going to enjoy the hell out of it.
We train all this (and then some) at the Power Series. As an extra added bonus, join the Members-Only Zoom with Joey—a twice-monthly hour with yours truly, where you can ask questions, bring your challenges, and train! Click HERE to learn more and sign up.