Do you worry about meeting your family during the holiday season? Many people do even though they sincerely love their family. People are different, also in families – with different ideas, different opinions, different lifestyles – so meeting the family can be challenging for many of us. Since I work daily as a therapist, I have learned that many people actually dread family get-togethers even if they usually won’t admit it to family and friends. But to me, people often will admit how they really feel.
So here are a few tips that can perhaps help you be a little more realistic (and relaxed) about meeting your family this year.
First of all, it’s a good idea to understand that the discomfort we often feel arises for many reasons. So let’s examine some of the reasons why this happens because this can give us a little more peace of mind. It’s good to remember that each individual lives in his/her own mental universe. This is a universal law. This also means there is no common experience even at family get-togethers. What one person experiences has nothing to do with what the other person or people experience. What I experience has nothing to do with what you experience. One person can think everything is just wonderful and be having a good time while the next person can be having quite a different experience. So remember, just because you think things went well, it doesn’t mean everyone else shares your experience. And vice versus, just because you feel unhappy or uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean everyone else felt the same way. This is because we can only experience our own thoughts, stories and interpretation of events. So there is no one common “family” experience but as many different experiences as there are people present. And we don’t (we can’t) experience what the other people are thinking or their stories about what’s going on – we can only experience what is in our own heads.
When you understand this, you can also see that since each person is living and experiencing his/her own mental universe, this must include not only his or her beliefs, thoughts and stories (programming) but also the healthy or unhealthy behavior that arises as a result of these beliefs and stories. Based on this understanding, here are some good things to remind yourself of before you meet the family.
1) It’s not your job to fix it
You are not responsible for what the other people in your family are feeling and experiencing. Remind yourself that everyone is feeling and experiencing what they are feeling and experiencing because of their own individual thoughts and beliefs. Their happiness or unhappiness is a result of their interpretation of what is going on. You can’t change this. You can’t prevent this from happening. This is universal law – an impersonal mechanism.
Also meeting the family often triggers each member’s issues. And again, you can’t prevent this from happening and you can’t change this. Nor are you to blame for this happening. This is also an impersonal universal mechanism.
And this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be respectful, kind, considerate, polite, and loving. Nor does it mean you shouldn’t have healthy boundaries, be treated with respect, learn to communicate clearly and set limits as to what is ok for you and what is not. But you are not responsible for other people’s happiness. Quite simply because you can’t get inside other people’s heads and control what they are thinking and feeling.
2) Mind your own business
If other people have problems or issues when the family gets together, then it’s their job to figure out how to deal with their problems. He or she can go to therapy, read books, and do whatever it takes to deal with their issues. It’s not your job. You can be supportive of other people, but you can’t fix them. Your job is to deal with your own issues. And this doesn’t mean you can’t say what you think. You can. And yes, all our words and actions have consequences – but this doesn’t mean you can’t do what you like. You can. You always can.
3) It’s not so black and white
Also remember you can all probably have a good time together even if there is some discomfort. It’s good to remember that things are usually not so black and white. Even if there are some awkward moments, there will probably be some good moments too. The reality is that your feelings and experience change and so does everyone else’s, so most family get-togethers are a mixture. And yes, it is possible to live with unresolved problems and issues. (Again, this is reality. We’re all living with unresolved problems and issues.)
You don’t have to agree about everything. You can disagree on things and still have a good time. Agreement and love are two different things. You can love someone and disagree on lots of things. Again, look at the reality. Do you agree with everything the people you love think or say?
Have you noticed that you probably still love someone – even if you are sometimes mad at this person? That’s just the way it is.
4) Be good to you
Be extra kind to yourself when being with your family triggers you. If you feel bad, know that this is also okay. You have your issues and so does everyone else. It’s part of being a human being. So remember, things will probably work out better for you if you’re not so desperate about wanting things to work out well at family get-togethers – even if this is your preference. Just do the best you can and then LET IT BE!
Happy Holidays to you!
About Barbara Berger
American-born Barbara Berger is the best-selling author of “The Road to Power – Fast Food for the Soul” (published in 30 languages), “Are You Happy Now? 10 Ways to Live a Happy Life” (published in 21 languages) and “The Awakening Human Being – A Guide to the Power of Mind”. Barbara's latest book is "Find and Follow Your Inner Compass – Instant Guidance in an Age of Information Overload". All her books are available on Amazon.com or on her Web site. Barbara also works as coach, helping people around the globe come into alignment with their own true power. For more about Barbara see her Web site: http://www.beamteam.com
*** Below are titles & links to the beautiful work from Barbara. She is a long time contributor :)
The Ultimate Self-Empowerment Tool – Your Inner Compass
The Key to Happiness; Understanding the Way the Mind Works
Who would you be if you didn’t know your age?
The Power of Right Seeing
Review of Barbara Berger’s book Find and Follow Your Inner Compass by Riki Frahmann
Who would you be if you didn’t know your age?
Are You Here Now? Are You Happy Now?
Discovering Who You Really Are
Getting in Touch with Your Heart
Follow Your Passion & Accept the Consequences
The Power of the Joyful Giver
You have nothing to deal with but your own thoughts
Peace Is Your Nature
The Power of Contemplating Love
How Can We Serve?
The Importance of Mind Management
Focus on the Real – A Way of Dealing with Worry and Catastrophic Thinking
Nothing External Can Disturb Us
Just Let Everything Be!
The Gift of Crisis
The Power of Asking for Help
What does it mean to be psychologically mature?
The Meaning of Life
The Power of Praise & Blessing
Our Unalienable Rights
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