It's the most wonderful time of the year - right?!
Yet, something happens at some point between Thanksgiving and New Year's that brings on stress, family dysfunction, and moments of either cold silence or hot rage towards those you love and hold dear.
Surely, you know what I am talking about.
You moved three states away from your family for a good reason. Unfortunately, last year the whole family decided to make the trip to get a chance to spend the holiday in your new house!
The visit lasted only five days, but you needed two weeks to recover!
There was the dinner when Aunt Mabel started on about just how horrible it would be if the country elected another damn liberal, worse still, a woman to be President!
Sure, you handled the whole situation with silence and a polite reminder to your kids not to start a fight.
Then, there was Thanksgiving dinner when you were hot and sweaty from working all day on the meal. You were putting on the finishing touches to sit down to dinner when shouts, from the TV room downstairs, called for more beer and snacks. Sure, no one saw you throw that salad spinner across the room or watched lettuce flying across the floor or heard the spinner break into pieces. Damn it, you and your husband had agreed FOOTBALL would NOT stop dinner, but apparently, overtime makes for different rules!
Finally, it was last morning and you thought you were going to get by without a long chat with your dad. But no, he got up extra early just to talk to you about work. He had to ask why (again) you haven’t gotten yourself a real job, one that offered a 401K and security. No. It didn't matter that your company, the one that you started, that was on the latest cover of Fast Company as one of the fastest growing organic lip gloss products.
Still, you made it! You survived, even if the salad spinner didn’t. No humans were injured or killed during the making of that holiday. No major fights, and you recovered, eventually.
Oh, BTW, apparently, everyone thought it was such a big success that they want to come back this year!
Maybe this doesn’t quite fit your holiday family adventures, but for many, this “most wonderful time of the year,” is riddled with stress, frustration and often silence or violence towards those you hold most dear!
It doesn't have to be this way, really!
There is another approach to handling family, and to productively dealing with the natural differences that are a part any important relationship.
The key is finding a way to show up, speak up, and thrive not just survive the holidays.
Most of us, and I’m guessing you, have been taught to water down your message or simply avoid having any real conversations for fear of rocking rock the boat or hurting feelings. However, that approach usually leaves you feeling exhausted, unfulfilled and a bit relieved you have a few states between you and family, hoping you won't have to do it again for another year or more!
What you really want is to connect, enjoy and be yourself with your family. Maybe even be able to take break and rejuvenate or spend a precious few minutes with your hubby.
You aren't alone. Family can be challenging. Not because you don't care, but because you do! You just don't know how to navigate those touchy boundaries and tough conversations that inevitably pop up when you are mixed with your family. Honestly, if you didn't care, it would be easy!
Let us help you make this holiday one you truly enjoy. Join us for our FREE 1hr. and 15 minute workshop on December 15th: How to Survive The Holidays with Your Family!
We'll be going through some key tools for thriving through the holidays. We'll also take some time to address your specific situation. That’s right! Email us to tell us your dreaded family dilemma, and we’ll brainstorm a solution address it right during the workshop!
But we don't want to leave you having read this far without something to get started.
Here's the thing. When you stay silent and hold everything in, you are sure to create stress. What might be hard to believe is that likely many others are feeling the same way!
The biggest challenge with family is getting over the hurdle and fear of risking hurting someone's feelings. I know it’s tough, which is why we suck at doing it.
Try this on. All your effort to be nice just creates suffering in you, but it doesn't actually DO anything to keep them from hurting. That you can't control. You may think you can, but you can’t.
The truth is you may save some pain in the moment when you stay silent, but let's face it, everyone gossips about Mabel and her right-wing attitude. She probably knows when silence results, people disagree. She may even wonder why no one asks her opinion or there's silence after one of her rants. So why not try speaking up? Doesn't mean you have to yell at her.
Maybe just say: "Aunt Mabel, I know you have strong opinions about liberals. I want you to know I respect your opinion but mine is different. Usually, I don't say anything. I want you to know I voted for Obama twice and would love to see a women be President. I am often curious why you feel so strongly, but have stayed silent because I didn't want to get into a fight about it."
Or with you father: “Dad, I get you care about me and want my financial future to be secure. I wonder if you’re interested in hearing about the company I’d running and how well we’re doing?”
Sure Mabel might blast you and your dad may still think you don’t have a real job, but I can almost guarantee you’ll feel better and have more energy if you do speak up!
Try it. You speaking up, being clear and taking care of yourself are really all you can control.
You may even want to plan ahead. Let folks know you want to see them during the holidays and this time you might want to do it differently. You plan to go get a massage or maybe you want to go out for Thanksgiving dinner.
If this sounds impossible or just too big a stretch, or want to know how to handle your family drama -- join us for the FREE 1 hr. and 15 minute workshop: How To Survive The Holidays with Your Family. We'd love to help you enjoy your holiday.
So email us at email@example.com and give us your dreaded family challenge! Show up live on December 15th, we'll do our best to coach and help you discover how you can do it different.
This really is a most wonderful time of the year!
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
Want to take a class? Sign up for one of their virtual classes: Get Unstuck, Relationship Mojo or come to their signature retreat Find Your Mojo in Montana. Click here to check out all their service offerings.
Click here to contact them to coach with you, consult with your team, or speak at your next event.