As most of us know and feel, the hectic pace of the holidays can put us to the test emotionally, mentally, and physically. With so much to do and so little time, overwhelm and anxiety can be real reactions we have to these stressors of fitting it all in. Maybe your are going to roll smoothly through the holidays with no stress, I say good for you! This is the ideal and you should bottle your secret recipe up and share it with others. For the rest of us however, we have the opportunity to slow down a little bit to keep ourselves intact. And then there is family. Family is a special time for a lot of people, connecting with those loved ones that we don’t necessarily see a lot in our lives. Bringing everyone under one roof for a day or few hours can be both exciting and challenging for some people.
There are those family members that rub you the wrong way, that you have negative history with, that challenge your well-being. I have written about drama in a past post, but the way I define it is as ‘unresolved emotional tension’. We don’t like to see ourselves or admit that we have drama in our lives sometimes, because that’s a less-than-ideal thought about ourselves. But it’s true. We go into our family holiday with judgment, apathy, sarcasm, avoidance and other attitudes and behaviors. And maybe you don’t, but others surely do and that can be a challenge for anyone to field. In the midst of your family members you know what triggers you, or at least you can. By thinking ahead about that certain uncle that is loud or that sibling who talks endlessly about themselves, you can understand what reaction you might have and then prepare yourself to keep yourself more emotionally intact this time. If you tend to react to some of these behaviors you get to ask yourself if you want to do this or not. If you do, then you do. If you don’t then what else can you do instead of react?
People are free to be who they are. But for those special family members that irk you, there is a judgment that they should be different. And maybe they should. But they are not. They are who they are. The deeper question to ask is why things bother you in the first place? What is it about other’s behaviors that leave you depleted, emotionally drained? I don’t have an easy answer for this, but what I do know is that the high art of self-awareness and self-management is to understand your own triggers and why they are there. What are the triggers showing you about yourself? There is a saying that posits, “If it bothers you, it’s your problem”. I tend to agree.
On the other hand, if that sibling who gets drunk and starts acting rowdy perturbs you, maybe they need to know how it impacts you and potentially others. This doesn’t have to come out of trigger though, but out of a respectful message to uphold your boundaries. Feedback is a special gift we can give others, but they also need to be willing to listen.
So in your holiday travels this year, just like skipping that extra sugary treat for your physical health, see if you can skip that side of emotional drama. Your reactions and judgments make for a not-so-good feeling inside. This is something that can be controlled, that you can control. Others’ behaviors are their own deal, borne from their own pain, drama and history, they are not personal to you. So don’t take it personally. Rise above the cloud of negative behaviors and take the high road, not out of superiority and separation, but out of love and compassion for yourself and others. A side of emotional tranquility will taste particularly good.