Getting Unstuck

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3 Tips to Survive the Holidays

Norman Rockwell was wrong - nobody's family looks like that

How many of you have a niggling feeling of dread about the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday?  Or maybe Christmas (which is around the corner)?  Or Hanukkah?

Even if you don't celebrate any of the upcoming festivities, you probably are going to be at some sort of gathering in the next month, and, secretly, maybe you're sort of dreading it? You anticipate drama.   You expect difficult conversations.   He's going to do that irritating thing he always does.   Aunt Meg will be drunk like she always is.   And the prospect makes you seriously consider moving to a cabin in Idaho.   So let me give you three tips for getting through it all: 

1. Stop dreading it.  Because you conjure what you expect to see.  It's true.  So why not say to yourself:  "This should be interesting."  And go into the situation as an observer rather than an active participant in the drama - and see what happens.  You might be surprised. Pleasantly. 

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2. Have a stock phrase prepared.  So, when Aunt Meg asks you if you have heard that Cousin Tommy has gone back into rehab and that his engagement to Sonia, the Brazilian swimsuit model has been cancelled, you simply say, "Isn't that interesting" (see #1 above) and change the subject to the weather.  Drama stopper, don't you think?  And you are effectively saying, "I'm not getting into the gossip."  Feels freeing, huh?

3. Drop all expectations.  We have such a Norman Rockwell vision in our minds of a loving, kind, connected, caring family gathering in humble gratitude for their many blessings, which is often in stark contrast to reality.  Which just might look more like a crowd of people with grudges, history together, mental illness, physical illness, lost jobs, lost marriages, lost children.  And you know what that means, don't you?  It means they are human.  So go into the situation loving the human-ness of everyone in the room, and offer to do the dishes.  It'll remind you that you are human, too.

You can have fun - no, really, you can - by shifting your own attitudes and behaviors this holiday season.  And, actually, enjoy yourself.

 

Michele Woodward is the author of I Am Not Superwoman: Further Essays on Happier Living and Lose Weight, Find Love, De-Clutter & Save Money: Essays on Happier Living. more...

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