It’s official – the Holidays are upon us!

Even if you’re not about to be inundated for Thanksgiving, you may be facing that scenario a month from now with the December holidays also coming up fast. So…if your family gatherings tend to be at all contentious or otherwise uncomfortable, now is a really good time to sharpen your focus and decide how you want things to go!

Today I just want to briefly remind you that no matter what family dramas may occur over the holidays, you don’t have to get sucked into them! By staying aware and intentional, and having a clear desired outcome in your mind, you can handle anything from veiled criticism to openly angry retorts from others, without becoming triggered into diving into the drama yourself.

You might think ahead about the sorts of behaviors you’ve come to expect from particular family members: personal digs, sarcasm, disrespect, bullying, etc. Then start now to imagine staying cool and calm in the face of those behaviors. Staying clear about who you are for yourself, and what you hope to achieve in each interaction – and, more broadly, in each relationship – will help you choose the most effective responses in each situation.

At the very least, you will be able to avoid contributing to the escalation of emotional confrontations and making things worse. That in itself is a big victory; you won’t leave the gathering feeling guilty or regretful about your own actions!

Right now in the Take Back Your Life group we are focusing on applying these skills of awareness and choice to all sorts of specific relationship and communication issues. And I can tell you that it makes a huge difference! Learning where your triggers are coming from, and which communication tactics are most successful for you, with your particular family members, gives you enormous power in handling yourself gracefully in the face of challenging interactions.

I sometimes compare being in family gatherings to walking through emotional minefields. Thinking ahead, and having a toolbox of strategies and skills that you’ve practiced and used with success in the past, allows you to see potential drama coming and avoid it. You steer gracefully around it, rather than have it take you by surprise and ruin your mood.

As the group members can attest, the result of having this new ability is that you feel peaceful, successful and happy at the end of each day. What a contrast to the dread before, and the disgruntlement after, that so many people feel around the holidays!

I highly recommend that you, too, have a way to learn about yourself and a meaningful support system for helping you accomplish the same in your own life.


Want a refresher on dealing with anger and keeping a positive attitude?

If you are anticipating any friction or tension with one or more family members, I encourage you to read the following two articles. They have suggestions that may help you prepare for those pop quizzes and respond to them without falling into old patterns:

Top 10 Things You Can Do to Reduce Anger, Frustration and Stress During the Holiday Season


Listen Through Filters to Create Loving Holiday Interactions

…And if you do use the suggestions and they work for you (or you try to, and discover internal resistance in yourself that keeps you from using them to best effect!), I’d love to hear from you about your experience!

Send me an email at and let me know how it’s going. If you have questions you’d like answered, include those too. It’s my wish for you that your holidays will be drama-free, and I’d be delighted to help you accomplish that!

Not on my mailing list? Enter your email information in the box at the top right of this page, and get the gift of a chapter of Take Back Your Life:A Caregiver’s Guide to Finding Freedom in the Midst of Overwhelm to get started on your journey to take as good care of yourself as you do of the others in your life… and we breathe… Loren

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