How to defuse the tension of family holidays

The holidays are upon us. Raise your hand if you or your family feel any tension around the holidays.

My husband says that the way to a happy marriage is not having any expectations. I say, the reason he’s so happy isn’t because he doesn’t have expectations, but because I’m just everything he ever expected. 😉

Kidding aside, though, there IS some truth to our expectations causing us some grief. One of the biggest reasons holidays can bring up tension is because we think people (including ourselves) should act and feel certain ways.

Have you ever heard yourself say, “It’s Christmas, everyone should be happy.” “It’s Thanksgiving, we should all want to be together.” “It’s Halloween, we should all have fun!” Is that really true?

Is everyone happy on Christmas? Does everyone get together, or WANT to get together on Thanksgiving? Should everyone have fun on Halloween?

All of these thoughts put a lot of pressure on ourselves and others to feel or do something that we may not feel or really want to do.

Let’s take Thanksgiving. What if everyone doesn’t WANT to get together this year? How do you think you’d feel if everyone DID want to get together? Is it connected? Love? Security?

Why do you think you’d feel those things? Sometimes we think we automatically feel connected to someone because they’re spending time with us. But have you ever spent time with someone and not felt connected?

The feeling of connection comes from our thoughts like, “We want to be together.” “I love them.” “They love me.” “We agree.” “We’re so much alike.” The other person doesn’t have to be thinking them, for you to. You can feel connected without the other person feeling connected.

Did you know these thoughts are true whether you’re together or not together? In fact, sometimes they’re even easier to believe when you’re not together.

If you’re starting to feel tension about other people’s choices or feelings around the holidays, take a step back and ask yourself how you think you’d feel if they behaved or felt the way you want them to. What would you believe? Then skip the part where you try to get them to do or feel the way you want them to, and believe the thoughts despite what they do or feel.

Choose to love them even if they’re unhappy, or don’t want to come to dinner. It’s always an option.

P.S. Want some help with a difficult relationship? I would love to help you get some relief and start to show up and feel the way you really want to. Sign up for a FREE 45-minute Consultation. I will give you personalized help for your situation.

Thursday Thought: I have plenty of time to do what I need to, and there’s time left over for fun

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my relationship with concepts, such as money and time. If time were a person, what would my relationship with Time be like? How do I think about this person TIME?

Some of my thoughts I’ve had about Time are: she’s never enough; I never have fun with her; I never get to take a break with her; She is controlling me; I need to control her. If I thought these things about a friend, I wouldn’t feel like we were very good friends.

I try to think these thoughts about Time: She’s always enough; I make sure I have fun with her sometimes; I plan with her so that I can work, play, relax, learn, and do all of the things I want to do with her.

I came up with this thought with a client I was working with: I have plenty of time to do what I need to, and there’s time left over for fun. If you feel like it’s really true that you don’t have enough time, try It’s possible, I have plenty of time to do what I need to, and there’s time left over for fun.

Sign-up for a free coaching session, and I will help you create a more relaxed relationship with time.

Thursday Thought: I don’t have to make it all better

Why do we feel the need to make everyone feel good all of the time? Not everyone feels this, but I think it’s pretty prevalent. What would it be like for you if you were okay with someone not feeling okay? What if you were okay with someone not liking you? What if you just listened to others’ complaints, to your own complaints, and not try to fix it? What would that be like?

The next time someone is upset, or your upset, what if you decided you would just listen to their upset, or feel your own upset? What if you told yourself, “I don’t have to make it all better,”?

How to Improve Any Relationship

I’ve talked about The Manual before and the gist is that we all have detailed instructions for how we think other people in our lives should act and be and feel. The problem is the people in our lives don’t have copies of these manuals, and even if they did, they wouldn’t follow them because it’s like trying to get a refrigerator to be a microwave. It could probably do a few of the same things, but it’s a refrigerator not a microwave.

Today when I was writing down my manual for someone else, so I could take a look at it, I realized that the main problem in that relationship was my manual for myself in that relationship. Did you know we also have manuals for ourselves? What? Well, of course we would follow our own manuals, right?

If we’ve never really sat down and written out our manuals, we don’t really know what’s in them. I had things in my manual like, “I should be calm all of the time.” “I should want to hang out with everyone who wants to hang out with me.” “I should never disappoint my husband.”

Obviously, those instructions aren’t helpful, realistic, or even healthy. What’s in your manual? Write down 10 things right now. Then for each one ask yourself how it makes you feel. Is it useful?

Thursday Thought: I’m here. I’ll listen.

I found myself searching the cupboards for anything to eat. For a second I paused and asked myself, “What is going on?” I wasn’t hungry, and I realized for the past two days I had been scouring the cupboards for something to eat when I wasn’t hungry almost constantly. I asked myself, “Am I trying to stuff something down?”

You know when one of your kids (or all of them) come and talk and talk and talk to you, but you’re not really listening? You’re trying to make dinner, read a book, or pay the bills. You know that moment when you finally stop what you’re doing and look at them and give them your full attention and really hear what they’re saying? This was like one of those moments.

At first, I started to listen and didn’t like what I heard, so I almost tuned out again. But then I thought, “I’m here. I’ll listen.” I decided I wasn’t going to try to make it all better. I just listened. The interesting thing was my inner self wasn’t trying to say a lot, she was just saying the same thing over and over. Maybe that’s why I tuned her out. But when I just decided to listen without making it all better, she calmed down a bit. Mostly she just wanted to be heard. Are you listening? Take a minute right now and tell yourself, “I’m here. I’ll listen.” What is your inner voice saying? You don’t have to make it all better, just listen.

Thursday Thought: Everything Is Going To Be Fine…

This thought helps me get out of that space of “everything is all wrong”.  I experience all of these things I write about. Sometimes I’m a huge mess. The other day was one of those days. Everything felt like it was never going to be okay. A friend offered me this thought, but added on the end…that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.


And somehow, that’s okay. It’s just enough to know that it’s going to be fine. I’ll just keep doing one thing at a time. If things don’t go the way I expect or want, it’s still going to be fine.

What are you dealing with right now? How is it true that it’s going to be fine, even if it’s not easy?

Thursday Thought: They’re just a human doing the best they can with the experiences they’ve had

Are you getting ready to be around family? Are you excited, or nervous, maybe a little of both? Think of that one “difficult” person. How do you want to feel when you’re around them. Do you know why they’re difficult? I’m sure you could give me all of the reasons, but want to know the truth? The only reason they’re difficult is because of your thoughts about them. I know, I know, everyone might agree with you that they’re difficult. But why not you be the one that shows everyone the way of how they’re not difficult, you’ve all just been believing negative thoughts about them?

Want to feel love? Think loving thoughts. One of my favourite thoughts for a difficult person is, “They’re just a human doing the best they can with the experiences they’ve had.” We’re all just humans doing the best we can. Now go and feel some love! It feels amazing!

Thursday Thought: I’m going to help her succeed with me.

A client was having a hard time with her Mother-in-law. From her point of view, her MIL never remembered when she promised to watch the kids. When my client would give her MIL instructions on medications or screen time or other things she wanted the kids to have while they were with their grandma, her MIL seemed to always get it wrong. At first she made it mean her MIL was trying to mess things up, or she didn’t care about my client’s instructions. But deep down, she knew her MIL was doing her best, she just did things differently than my client. Her MIL was more of free spirit where my client was more organized and liked schedules and calendars. Can you relate?

My client wanted to feel love for her MIL and have her children get the medications and other things that were important to her when they were with their grandma. She decided to figure out what were the 2 or 3 most important things to her and then decided how she could help her MIL succeed. She decided she would write things down for her MIL instead of just telling her. And if that didn’t work, she would try something else, maybe brainstorm with her MIL. She would make it an experiment to see what helped her MIL be successful. Most of all, she wouldn’t make it mean that her MIL didn’t care about her.

Who in your life do you think wants to succeed at what you request of them, but get’s it wrong every.time.? How could you help them be successful? Don’t try and change them, just how could you make it easier for them? Do you need to clarify, write it down, be more willing to say your preference, be more encouraging?

Try the thought: I’m going to help her/him succeed with me.

Wanting Other People To Feel Better

When I was learning to speak Spanish, my trainer would correct me. every.single.time. That was her job right? One day I finally told her, “I want to learn Spanish. I want to know when I’m getting it wrong, but not all of the time. Sometimes I just want you to listen to my story.”

Can you relate? You know you have a problem, and you DO want to solve it, but sometimes you just want to talk about it. Sometimes you just want to complain about it. Sometimes you want to feel bad. You may not realize that you want to feel bad, because that’s crazy, right?? But we do. We WANT to feel all of the range of emotions. Talking about it can help us process the emotion, and understand the thoughts creating it.

However, sometimes we have a huge intolerance for negative emotion. We don’t even want other people to feel negative emotion. They’re crying and we say, “Don’t cry!” They’re mad and we say, “Don’t be mad!” We want to fix the “problem” that’s making them feel bad. We give advice so they can get over it.

We think we’re just trying to be kind and help them feel better, but what we’re saying is, “You’re feeling wrong.” What if they need to feel bad? What if the best thing for them is to feel a negative emotion? If we try to stop their pain instead of just listening to them talk about it, it could be like giving them a pain killer when something is really wrong. They won’t realize there’s something they need to pay attention to.

What if you were just there to help them feel their feelings instead of change them? What would that be like?

Thursday Thought: …And It’s Okay

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? I think that’s a thought I’ve had a lot of my life. It’s not all of the time, but it’s kind of a go-to thought that hasn’t served me well, and doesn’t feel very good. While getting coached on it, I realized that when I think I don’t fit in, I then decide there must be something wrong with me.

As I was getting coached, I was having a really hard time letting go of the thoughts that I’m different and there might be something wrong with me, so instead of changing it, my coach offered to just add on “…and it’s okay.”

Now when I have that thought come up, I add on “…and it’s okay.” “There might be something wrong with me, and it’s okay.” That thought makes me feel so relieved, instead of sad and desperate. So what if I’m different? So what if there are social skills I could improve on? It’s okay! We’re all different and quirky and have skills in different areas, and it’s okay! It’s nice that we’re not all robots.

What thoughts could you add this onto? Try it, and leave a comment to let me know!