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Dec 15

Surviving Holiday Stress — 10 Tips for Enjoying Your Family Reunions this Holiday Season

How to Get Along  Better with Your Family this Holiday Season

The holidays are here and for many people this time of year brings quite a bit of anxiety. There is so much to do: shopping, getting the house ready for parties, and the big one, the holiday[tag-tec] family reunions[/tag-tec].

Do you have any concerns about attending your [tag-tec family get together] family’s get togethers[/tag-tec] this holiday season? Is it challenging to relate to some members of your family, in-laws, or extended family? Do you ever feel drained just thinking about attending these events?

Imagine if you could experience your family in a whole new light. Picture walking into this season’s [tag-tec]family gatherings[/tag-tec] with a feeling of excitement and leaving feeling relaxed and glad you went.

If that sounds good to you, then follow these 10 tips to create a new family experience this year–one you’ll enjoy a whole lot more.

10 Tips for Surviving [tag-tec]Holiday Stress[/tag-tec]

Tip #1 – Make a Choice

One of our favorite sayings is: The shortest path to a [tag-tec]happy life[/tag-tec] is found through conscious choice.you-pickSmall

If you don’t make a conscious choice to have a different experience, it’ll probably end up being exactly the same as it has in past years. So set your intention to have an experience you’ll enjoy this season.

Tip #2 – Decide What You Want to Experience

The most powerful intentions are both conscious and specific about what you want to experience. If you aren’t clear about what you do want to experience, then it will be difficult to see opportunities to make that happen–and you may not even notice it when it is happening. How do you get clear about your intention?

You start with the qualities you want to experience. You might pick qualities like fun, caring and harmony as what you want to experience this year. Or you might think it would be wonderful if you could experience more connection, honesty, and caring. Take some time to imagine all the qualities that would make your holiday gathering a wonderful experience for you. Then pick at least three that you want to focus on as your intention.

Tip #3 – Create a Plan

Now that you’ve chosen the qualities you want to experience, think of ways you could help make this happen. If you want to experience more connection with your mother, you might consider buying her a gift that would be very meaningful to her. If you want to experience more fun with your in-laws you might bring a game that everyone could enjoy playing together.

Get the idea? Look at each one the qualities you want to experience and then come up with at least one thing you can do that might help you experience it.

Tip #4 – Everyone’s Doing the Best They Can

Practicing unconditional positive regard for you family members may seem challenging. You might ask: “When my brother complains about everything under the sun, is he doing the best he can?” “When my mom criticizes me about every part of my life, is she doing the best she can?” 75626736

Yes. In fact they are doing the best they can.

Stop and think about it. Does your brother look like he’s having fun at these times? Is your mom being effective at getting what she really wants? If they knew a way to take care of themselves that was more fun–and that worked better at getting what they really wanted–don’t you think they would do it that way instead?

So if you get upset seeing people act the way they do, remind yourself: They are doing the best they can. If they knew better they would do better. Then get back to your intention to create what you want to experience as fast as you can. In that moment ask yourself again: “What do I want to experience, and how can I help make this happen?”

Tip #5 – Don’t Take Things Personally

Reading this, you might be thinking, “Don’t take it personally? What if someone says that I’m making stupid choices about my life–how can I not take that personally?”

You can avoid taking things personally if you start with this understanding: Everything people do or say is because they’re trying to meet some need or experience something they value. The truth is, what they say is never about you.

So the next time you hear something you don’t enjoy–the next time you want to defend yourself and justify your position–STOP and remember: This is about them. Don’t take it personally, and then move quickly to Tip #6.

Tip #6 – Be Curious.

Now that you know comments directed at you are not about you, you can choose to relax and just be curious.

When someone says something you don’t enjoy try asking yourself a question like: “Wow, I wonder what’s going on with them?” Then imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes: “If I said or did that, what might be going on with me?” See if you can guess what is important to them like we suggest in Tip #7.

Tip #7 – Play the Guessing Game

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Being curious is the first step when playing this guessing game. So if your father says to you: “How can you possibly think that starting your own business is a smart thing to do in today’s economy?” try playing the guessing game. What need could he possibly be meeting or what value might he want to experience by saying this?

Then Guess! He might value security, or predictability. He might be worried about how you’ll pay your bills, pay for health insurance, or save for your retirement. Believe it or not, this is most likely his attempt to contribute to you.

And, remember, he is doing the best he can.

Tip #8 – Make Sure You Understand

One big cause of upset between people is that they don’t know what they want from each other or how to ask for it.

Have you ever heard someone say something like: “I just don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent this month?” Or: “I hate it when some people start eating before everyone is served.” Or maybe a family member starts talking to you about how your favorite cousin is making such a mess of her life.

What happens then? Do you feel confused or uncomfortable? Do you try to justify yourself, explain the situation, or give advice?

Whenever you feel uncomfortable hearing someone’s concerns or complaints, we believe this is partly caused by your not understanding what they want from you about their complaint.

We suggest you start asking for clarity. Ask them directly or guess what you think the other person might want from you. Often you’ll find they aren’t clear about it themselves. Exploring this is a way to create greater understanding between you. This will also give you the clarity to know if you can actually help them in any way.

Tip #9 – Put it All Together

Before you ask for this kind of clarity from someone else, we suggest that you remember tips 1 through 7.

  • Remember you made a choice to have a different experience.
  • Get present to the intention you created for the gathering.
  • You have a plan, stick to it.
  • Remember people are doing the best they can.
  • Don’t take things personally.
  • Get into a curious frame of mind.
  • Start guessing.

Suppose cousin Jim says: “I just don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent this month.” What does he want? Ask him: “Do you want to brainstorm some ideas about how you might get your rent this month?”

Or when your grandmother says: “I hate it when we start eating before everyone is served.” What does she want? Ask her: “Would you like to ask if people are willing to wait until everyone is served before we start eating this year?

If your guesses aren’t accurate, they’ll let you know by saying something else that gets closer to what they do want. Your guess will open the way for a conversation that can lead to more understanding and less stress for both of you.

Tip #10 – Be Grateful  sunset_celebration

What you focus your attention on grows.

If you constantly notice things that cause you pain, then you will continue to suffer. “He’s such a complainer.” “She always wants everything her way.” “He’s always on my case.”

Try focusing your attention on what you enjoy and then be grateful for it.

It may sound simple. But ask yourself: “What would it be like if the next time I was with my family; I spent my time simply noticing everything that I like about being with them?”

Imagine looking for all the things that you do enjoy, and being thankful for them. “It smells so good in here. I can’t wait to eat.” “I’m so grateful that everyone cares enough to spend time together.” “It’s nice that my mom enjoys having these gatherings at her house so I don’t have to clean up.”

How would you feel if you only focused your attention on the things you do enjoy and then experienced the joy of gratitude?

Enjoy Your Next Family Get Together

So here they are: 10 tips for experiencing your family in a whole new light this holiday season.

Tip #1 – Make a Choice

Tip #2 – Decide What You Want to Experience

Tip #3 – Create a Plan

Tip #4 – Everyone’s Doing the Best They Can

Tip #5 – Don’t Take Things Personally

Tip #6 – Be Curious.

Tip #7 – Play the Guessing Game

Tip #8 – Make Sure You Understand

Tip #9 – Put it All Together

Tip #10 – Be Grateful

Following these tips is the fastest, easiest way we now to enjoy any family activity. If you choose to practice these 10 tips with your family, we’d love it if you’d let us know how it goes.

with love,

Beth & Neill

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11 Responses to “Surviving Holiday Stress — 10 Tips for Enjoying Your Family Reunions this Holiday Season”

  1. Patty says:

    Nicely done! These tips can be used in a number of situations. Easy to do…and yet so easy to forget when you’re in the heat of the moment. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Kristopher Raphael says:

    Very nice Beth…and very needed as for many the holiday season brings up a lot of childhood wounding.

    Kristopher

    • Beth Banning says:

      Thanks for stopping by Kristopher. 🙂 So true. The holidays and any family event sure can get those beliefs we developed as children bubbling to the surface. Getting conscious of them is definitely the first step to transforming them.

  3. Beth Banning says:

    You’re so welcome Patty. It’s true, these tips can be used in any relationship situation. At work, at home, with anyone we meet.

  4. Susan Eller says:

    Excellent advise, Beth. This post is very well done – thoughtful, clear and immensely helpful. I will be sure to pass this helpful information along.

    All the best,
    Susan

  5. Beth Banning says:

    Thanks so much Susan!

  6. bill plews says:

    Nice one, great advice and brilliant intentions. Especially love conscious choice. Have a brilliant and thoughtful Christmas break.
    Bill

  7. Steve says:

    Thank you very much for the tips. I`ll try to remember them next time I met my family.
    Thanks again,
    Steve

  8. richard says:

    Very helpful article. Don’t take things personally is probably the hardest to do.

  9. Corner Cabinet says:

    family activities are very nice to have, it also strengthens the bond among family members *~-

  10. Gary says:

    Great article.

    Everytime I go on holiday with the family, we always have problems and cant decide what to do, always complaining and other little problems.

    Thankfully this article has some great points and I will be looking to use these.

    Thanks,