Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Thoughts on dealing with the challenge of "family" during the Holidays

It's that time of year again when it seems that all human beings are fraught with the knowledge that they might actually have to be in the presence of their blood relatives for a day or two of "fun-filled" festivities. Like the" Swallows" that go back to "San Juan Capistrano" each year, many people feel obligated to go home and spend time with relatives that they neither like, nor agree with on most issues. If they had to pick these people out of a crowd to spend time with them as friends, it would not happen. This brings up feelings of regret, resentments, and depression for past and current slights that have not healed or resolved. It is no wonder that suicides increase during the Holiday season. With some easy preparation, one can avoid some of the hardship the Holidays represent. Know your emotional limitations and absent yourself from people and places that make you upset.

While for some, the Holidays is a joyous time, it is also a "marker in time" for those who have lost a loved one during the year. I often hear, how will I get thru Christmas or Hanukkah without this person that has died? The New Year can also bring feelings of what might have been or should have been in the past and again, regrets. 

"Regret is the inability to create a happier past." Therefore, it is imperative that we live our lives in our own truth. What does this mean? It means living honestly and without doing what others want us to do or expect us to do. If we are truly emotionally self-actualized adults, in layman's terms "grown ups" then it doesn't matter what others think of us or don't think of us. Manipulation is not love. When we expect someone to act in a certain way, and they do not, is it our fault or theirs when it comes to expectations being unmet? How does this tie in with going to see family for the Holidays? Well, if you know that your "Uncle Joe"always gets drunk and belligerent after a holiday meal it means that you can either go and subject yourself to the "Uncle Joe" "out of control" show, or you can simply stay for appetizers and a "hot toddy" and wave Happy Holidays as you leave like an adult before all the drama. Will it hurt "Aunt Martha's" feelings? Perhaps, but it may spare you the therapy bills until mid-march when you finally "get it" that staying for dinner with "the relatives" just isn't worth your sanity! 

I actually know divorced partners who wouldn't "spit on the other if they were on fire" agreeing to get together over the Holidays for the "sake of the children." This is the equivalent of rolling a hand grenade into a crowd and hoping that no one is stupid enough to "pull the pin." Children are smart. They get it. You don't like each other anymore, and that hurts. It hurts them too. Try to lower the anxiety for their sake and "let go of your ego" so that they can enjoy the day. If this means that Christmas/Holiday is "just another day" for one parent, then so be it. 

Meditate, on what I am suggesting and let go of the idea that the Holidays are "supposed to go a particular way." Let go of expectations, overspending, manipulative friends and/or relations. Make plans to surround yourself with people who bring you joy. If all else fails, go to bed and relax. January 1st is just around the corner and with it an all new beginning. Everything in moderation, even "Uncle Joe and Aunt Martha."  Namaste.....Karen