Because big family holidays and celebrations tend to bring into focus the way we really feel--duty, dread or delight, here's some relationship help insights to make it easier .
But, how is it for you? Do you look forward to joining with your family and delighting in the celebration? Or, is it obligation and duty that has you dragging yourself there?
I hope that you have a wonderful, loving, giving family where there is an abundance of love, generosity, openness and support. I'm writing this blog post for those of you for whom the holidays are more duty than delight to give you some insights that might be the relationship help you need.
There really isn't much thanks giving if you are smiling through gritted teeth and sitting on tenterhooks waiting for someone to ask a question that is really none of his or her business.
On the other hand, joining together with people you love and care about naturally makes us want to give thanks and celebrate well.
So, which way is it for you? And, what can you do to make this better? Three important considerations for you:
1. YOU HAVE A RIGHT
You do not have to go to anywhere because you're an adult now. It is your right to make your own decisions and place yourself in safe places where there is no need for anxiety.
Where one difficulty arises is that you want your family to "work", to be functional, loving and supportive.
So, you go, year after year, and:
- You hope people will be different.
- You want them to accept you as you are right now.
- You want to be respected for living in integrity with your own values, vision, beliefs and purpose.
- You want people to be interested in you and supportive of you.
- You want to feel safe, with no one attacking you with their expectations for your life.
And, that may happen. But, only if all those folks have an epiphany, an awakening that will help them see that the only life they have to live is their own, not yours!
2. YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY
You can be different with them. When one person in a system changes, the system changes. It might be slow, but it does happen. Of course, there is always the chance that the system will not change for the better. Some people are very entrenched in their ways, secure in their beliefs that they know the truth--for themselves and everyone else, too. AND, they are just itching to share that truth, too!
P.S. I have a big pet peeve: people who use this term and think it excuses their rudeness, intrusions, and judgments: "brutal honesty". That is simply, in my opinion, an excuse to unleash your mouth, unfiltered, and justify it by saying "It's for your own good." or "Someone had to tell you." That is completely unnecessary. Please don't be one of them!
What the ego hates is a boundary. It loathes, and rises up screaming, when a boundary is expressed, and it gets especially vicious when a boundary is maintained. Your opportunity is to clarify your boundaries and learn to express them in ways that are totally kind and totally honest at the same time.
Your opportunity is to know yourself so well and have skills you can depend on, so that you can simply say what is so for you and how you prefer to be treated. NOTE: You say nothing about them, those other people!! You deliver this in a matter-of-fact, just-want-to-share-this-with-you manner. Then, you shore it up with your behavior, and, if necessary, consequences. That's boundary-setting at it's best. (You can learn more about that in my blog post on "Boundaryitis". )
Remember the way you choose to deliver your boundaries needs to be in keeping with who you are. If you are confrontational, mean-mouthed or judgmental, you will tell them more about who you are than how you want to be treated. It certainly won't get you the results you're hoping for.
3. YOU HAVE A CHOICE
Add your choice to your right and your opportunity.
It is your choice how you embrace people as they are and let them be themselves, just as you want them to let you be you.
It is your choice if you let people get under your skin, irritate, or upset you. Yes, that's your choice. As Eleanor Roosevelt is famous for saying: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Rise above and behave from your own values, vision and beliefs. Then, you will not give them power to bother you. This one takes real practice, and it's well worth doing!
So, these next holidays, prepare!
- Know your own values. For example, if you value family, treat them as though you value them. If you value peace and your family dishes up continuous chaos, you might want to limit your participation.
- Know your boundaries. Clarify them to yourself. Express them to others, honestly and kindly. Maintain them persistently.
- Know your limits. If you are clear that some areas of family gatherings are uplifting and others are toxic, choose the uplifting ones. Steer clear of toxicity.
- Know what brings you joy, and follow that path. P.S. You can find joy almost anywhere, if that's what you're looking for!
Turn your holidays from duty to delight, one way or the other. It's up to you...not them!
Disclaimer: all advice, insights and suggestions made here are not to be construed as psychological or legal advice. Any actions you undertake as a result of reading any article, book, ebook or blog post from Rhoberta Shaler, PhD, are entirely your own. Having worked with individuals and couples for more than thirty years, she offers her opinions for your consideration only.