Here at Divine Living, we like to keep things real. We’ve been talking a lot in this issue about what a fabulous time the holidays are and how wonderful it is to spend time celebrating with loved ones. True and true. However I also know there’s another side to it (and you probably do too!).
While we all have much to be grateful for this season, I know that for many, it can be challenging to spend so much time with family—even when it’s also a joy. We all face a high-probability of having our buttons pushed. As one of my mentors used to say: “If you think you’re enlightened, go home for the holidays.”
Relationships are teachers, and there is something to be learned from the challenging dynamics. For those of us who are always seeking to become the best versions of ourselves, the opportunity is to rise above.
First of all, if you spend your holidays comparing your family to some ideal of the perfect family (that you think you’re seeing on Instagram), then that’s an easy recipe for misery. Family dynamics are interesting for nearly every person on the planet. Being a women’s empowerment coach and psychotherapist for the past 16 years, I’ve heard countless stories, all unique. I know how painful family relationships can be.
The key to transformation is to become aware, take personal responsibility and then to reclaim your power. You may not have the power to change anyone else in your family (and we all know how hard you’ve tried), to make them act, behave or dress the way you’d like them to, or to have them think as highly of you as you’d like them to. But no matter what your family dynamics are, you always have the ability to set boundaries and create peace within yourself. With practice, you might even move so far as to create happy family relationships (without changing them) or at least to finding happiness within.
We have the choice to respond, rather than react this holiday season. Family can stir up a lot of guilt and obligation, and it’s important not to make decisions from a place of fear. Instead let this season be a time when you learn to speak the truth in love, regardless of what you think your friends and family are going to say about it, and even when the most loving response is “no.”
Perhaps as children, certain dynamics were established that had us disempowered. Now as adults, we are conscious that no one can have us feel any other way than what we allow. We can be in control of how we feel, say no, set boundaries, and be as proud of how we do family as we are of any other area of our lives.
Remember that this is your life and your time to relax and celebrate all that you’ve accomplished. Whatever that looks like for you, do it. The important thing is that you do not self-abandon and that you be there for yourself. If you can commit to that, then you too will find yourself singing “it’s the most wonderful time of the year!”