Mindset and Personal Development Coaching

If you Struggle during the Holidays

Nov 23, 2022

With the holidays right around the corner, it's that time of when we get together with friends and family and fulfill our yearly obligations. For some this can be something we look forward to all year long, and for others it may cause anxiety and we may dread the holidays.

We are taught that we are supposed to love our families with total unconditionality, because they are family after all. Society and media push this down our throats by sensationalizing the nuclear family gathered together at the dining room table. We are taught to believe this it how the holidays should feel like.

In my professional opinion, getting together with the family during the holidays, or any time really can bring up not so pleasant feelings and reminders of the painful past. Many of my clients suffer from anxious anticipation of feeling obligated to do something they would normally not choose to do when it comes to spending time with their families.

When I think about the holidays, I reminisce about spending the holiday at a ranch style home in the country, or the mountains, surrounded with pines, snow, nature and pure quietness. The rooms are nicely decorated with holiday cheer, the house smells of fresh baked ham and there is a fire glowing off in the other room.

To me, it sounds so idyllic. Yet, I have never experienced this, but this is something I desire. We all gather around as a family and share stories from our past, or tell of interesting things the kids have done this past year. The kids run around wild, while we all help make food, we laugh, we drink and it's all around a great time! We're together and that is what matters, right?

If the holidays cause you anxiety or being around your family isn't ideal to you, if being surrounded with your family isn't what you want it to be, and if you are being really honest with yourself, you don't really enjoy being with your family? I want you to know, this is 100% okay, just because someone is your family, doesn't necessarily mean you have to like them. The family you create is more important than the family you came from. Even if you don't have a family of your own, it's about the relationship you have with yourself.

The driving force of my parenting comes from this thought. Everything I do is to create a healthy family dynamic between myself and my children. This doesn't necessarily mean I have negative thoughts about my family, it means I have learned to have healthy boundaries for myself.

Here are some tips you can use to protect your energy and your emotions during this holiday season:

1. Ask yourself if you even want to go,  and if you really don't want to, then why are you doing something that doesn't serve you?

Are you going to people please your parents? Do you feel obligated to go? Do you feel like you are being rude or a jerk by not going? Or perhaps it's not that simple and you don't have the heart to tell your children. I know it will be hard to put this boundary in place, but ask yourself what matters most? Your well-being or your family's emotions?

2. Stay at a separate location if you are traveling out of town

This in itself will ease a lot of tension. You'll create space to come and go as you please and you won't feel like you are suffocating being around your family 24/7. If you don't have this luxury, then I highly recommend you take a walk outside if you're feeling anxious. Grab some fresh air and clear your mind as much as possible.

3. Don't go hard on the alcohol

 The holidays are notorious for gathering around and imbibing, it's what we're taught to do through the media. Too much alcohol mixed with tough family members is a disaster waiting to happen. (I say this from personal experience). Alcohol causes people to be loose with their lips. Being able to compose yourself may be difficult to do, alcohol is a social lubricant after all, but if you've been holding back and biting your tongue all these years, you have a few drinks in you, you may let something slip that you may not have otherwise mentioned. Is that going to be worth it and solve any problems? Overreacting is never a good thing. So remember to practice self-composure. Sure, you might feel better, but I promise you it won't be worth it when it's not your true self speaking. There is a time and a place to confront certain topics, but being inebriated is not one of them.


4. Try to connect with someone on a deeper level

I see so many people avoiding having deep, intimate conversations with loved ones. They avoid it at all costs. Being direct and communicating what you're really feeling is the only way through tough times. Yes, there is a time and a place and during Thanksgiving dinner may not be the place, but what if you could set some time ahead and let your family know what is really going on with you? Some may not understand and that's 100% okay. This is your journey and you owe it to yourself to speak your truth, regardless of how they feel. Speaking with compassion towards your family and yourself is the way. Having difficult conversations are not easy, but they are necessary if you want to heal any childhood wounds.

5. Try to love your family for who they are, not who you need them to be

This will probably be the hardest thing for you to do, especially if you experienced childhood trauma. I'm not saying to forget, but to forgive. We forgive ourselves, so we can heal and live our best lives. Yes, some parents are really, really shitty. Most parents damage their kids. I choose to believe this is not by choice, but by their own emotionally damaged upbringing. It is your job to stop the generational trauma if you are reading this. You have the power to heal yourself, so it is important to recognize most people do the best they know how. Consider yourself lucky if you have the intellect to acknowledge this. 

When well intended parents cause harm, it will behoove you to know it's because they don't have the emotional maturity themselves. This doesn't mean you need to surround yourself with toxic people. It means you have the maturity to be diplomatic when you're around people that don't bring you joy and you are emotionally healed that you know this isn't your everyday life. Knowing that you don't have to spend a lifetime with these people. You are not married to them, they are your family and YOU get to choose how much time you want to spend with them!

Remember it all comes down to choice! Do what makes your heart happy!

Stay connected with more from Real with Rebecca!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.