Below you'll find a helpful video with 4 practical strategies that I LEARNED THE HARD WAY.
You can skip that stress RIGHT NOW and totally change the way you think about holidays and family interactions. All of these tips are practical and relatable, and they have helped me so much.
The idea of pretending to meet your relatives for the first time was a LIFE CHANGER for me.
I've personally wasted lots of time thinking about and dreading holiday interactions, and you don't have to do that. I also wasted a lot of time and money on therapy but later learned that changing my thoughts gives me the power to be in full control of my circumstances.
Here are my three easy tips to make this a grateful and easy Thanksgiving holiday. (video below)
1. Make a list of things you've been wanting to accomplish. I have clients this week who are writing grant proposals, planning dream vacations, and organizing their photo albums. I have a whiteboard in my office where I keep a list of the projects I want to do but don't have time to focus on. Whenever I have a cancellation or there is some extra space in my schedule, I have a pre-made list of things I GET to do. Holiday weeks are filled with extra space. Instead of watching TV or worrying about what Sarcastic Susie is going to say about your new diet or your new business, focus on THE LIST.
2. Think about the people who most irritate you and imagine you are meeting them for the very first time. THIS IS A POWERFUL THOUGHT STRATEGY, friends. When you meet someone for the first time, don't you show a lot more grace, tolerance, and patience? It's because you have no emotional attachment or memories of pain, embarrassment, grief, judgment, etc. A lot of times our awkward encounters with people have more to do with our thoughts and feelings than theirs. Imagine you are meeting this person for the first time has nothing to do with them. It simply allows you to stop thinking, worrying, and feeling resentful so that you can enjoy your day.
3. Prepare clever responses for those annoying or hurtful questions. Here are some ideas:
It's true, I don't eat meat, but I've been looking forward to your green bean casserole. You did bring that this year, didn't you?
Nope, no plans to get married, but aren't you about to celebrate an anniversary?
The children are with their dad today, so it's just me. Good news though, they will be with me when I see you for _______.
It's a good strategy to turn the focus back on the person who is asking you a question or making a comment. Remember that our family members are usually asking these questions because they love and care for us. They don't intend to make you feel awkward or uncomfortable. When I realized this it changed my life and my holiday enjoyment forever.
4. Here's a journal prompt to help you enjoy the holiday instead of dreading it:
Make a list of the family members you'll be seeing this holiday season. Ask yourself these questions about each individual*:
What is your first memory of this person?
Think of a time that you laughed with them.
What characteristics of this person do you admire?
What challenges have they overcome in their lifetime?
Doing this journal exercise before a stressful holiday gathering will help you feel both grounded and grateful. I hope these tips help you to enjoy the holiday.
*IMPORTANT: The advice provided is intended for independent adults and is not a substitute for therapy, counseling, or intervention. While these tips may help navigate common challenges with relatives, it is crucial to acknowledge that more serious issues require professional assistance. If you find yourself in a situation where your safety is compromised or you feel uncomfortable, it is imperative to seek help from a trusted professional source. A licensed therapist, medical professional, or counselor can provide the support needed to address deeper concerns and guide you through the process of advocating for yourself. Additionally, if you are facing issues related to violence or addiction, consider reaching out to local shelters or resources dedicated to supporting individuals in such situations. Your well-being is of utmost importance, and there are professionals and organizations available to assist you in navigating any challenging circumstances.