Surviving the Upcoming Holidays: Gulp! The “How To”

Surviving the HolidaysWow! The holidays are here again! For some, this period is filled with time pressures, money issues, over committing and dealing with FAMILY DYNAMICS and the expectations of others.

How do you deal with these vexing issues? The answer is in your Core, or Gut Feeling. You need to start from a grounded place inside you and then move on from there. [Click HERE to see my previous article on listening to your Core]

Ask yourself:

  • What would you really like to do? What stops you from doing that? Money? Family dynamics? Logistics? Breaking tradition?
  • What consequences will result if you choose this path? How will you feel if your decision upsets others? How will you feel if you choose to ignore your Core to please others?
  • Can you find a way to do what you would really like, but also keep some other obligations or choices, even though neither option may be perfect?

Once you have your answers, you will need some strategies for dealing with the collateral damage:

Choosing to NOT attend a family function

Your choices may cause some difficulty. Try to explain why you made the choice you did. However:

  • Realize that you have no control over a family member who disagrees with you after you have expressed your thoughts and intentions in the best, loving way you can. You are not unkind or thoughtless because the person is not getting what they want. Try to stay away from blaming or trying to defend yourself.
  • You can offer another time to get together if you really want to reconnect. Your pressure may come from a family member not wanting to look badly in front of others. You can defuse this feeling by contacting some of the relatives and nicely telling them you are sorry to miss seeing them and hope to get together another time.

Choosing to attend a family function

You can get through this as painlessly as possible through preparation. You already can anticipate who gets upset if things are not done a certain way or who is more reactive, or who will try to guilt you. You can prepare responses ahead of time to some of the past conversations. I’m talking about non-confrontational yet genuine answers to the best of your ability. Holidays are not the time to hash out past grievances.

It may be easier to make others happy at your expense, but it will not change the dynamics into a healthier place in the future. Be as kind as you can without giving away your core or what is best for you. Be prepared in your responses as best you can in terms of what fits you. For example, if you need to leave earlier than others: “I’m sorry I need to leave early but I have another commitment I need to keep. I enjoyed seeing you all and hope everyone has a great and safe holiday.”

Dealing with Financial Limitations

For example, family is out of state and finances are tight for you right now. You can try to explain this to the best of your ability, but be prepared that they may be disappointed and even take this personally. You can offer another time to get together when flights are more affordable. Remember, you cannot control how someone feels or responds to your situation. Be prepared in terms of what you say and how they will respond to what you are telling them.

Disappointment is not necessarily the same as them being disappointed in you. They may be more disappointed in not being able to see you during the holidays.

Managing your Commitments

Know as much ahead of time what your holidays will involve. Which commitments do you want to attend? Which ones are obligatory? Again, it is about being as prepared as possible. Try to make your schedule and acceptances work for you as best as you can.

Who Gets Presents and Who Does Not?

  • What has worked for you in prior years and what has not?
  • If you are having financial limitations, talk to your friends and family about another way to do presents. Many people have financial struggles right now, so you also may be helping them. Are people open to having a spending limit? Or picking a name from a hat?
  • If you are closer to some friends than others, plan a separate time to exchange gifts.

Being Isolated or Alone During the Holidays

  • Reach out to others who are also on their own. Revel in your independence.
  • Show gratitude. Choose an organization that feeds the less fortunate or brings them gifts. Being around others can be very healing, especially when we are on the giving side.
  • Plan your day ahead of time. If you don’t want to be around other people, do a fun project, like an artistic hobby. Or perhaps go to a place of nature or some place that comforts you. Take a good book with you. Make it a movie day even if it is at home. Eat your favorite foods.

Closing thoughts

The holidays are difficult for most people, whether it is their time limitations or financial pressures, or being isolated from family and friends. Identify your desires, your pressures and limitations, and then decide what will work. Do your homework on how to deal with difficult family dynamics. Be prepared in your responses and time limitations.

Try not to overspend, especially if it comes from feeling obligated or trying to impress others. If we feel we need to impress someone by the amount we spend on them, then it is less about our own value, and is more about trying to impress others to make up for a lack of Self-valuing. When others expect you to impress them financially, chances are it is the wrong person you are trying to impress. It should be about you and your innate value.

Remember, holidays are mostly a one-day affair. If nothing is working for you, then do what you need to do in a healthy way to just get through the day. It’s all about being prepared ahead of time.

Here’s to Happier Holidays!

About Susan Saint-Welch

Susan Saint-Welch LMFT has counseled couples and individuals for many years on issues such as dating, marriage, family drama, coping with difficult times, improving self-image and living the life you love. She provides psychotherapy for clients in California and Couples and Life Coaching for clients outside California through secure video conferencing. She has published numerous articles regarding these issues on her website, on YourTango.com and on MSN.com.

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