Holiday survival guide!
Over the holidays, many of us will find ourselves around family who, to varying degrees, will trigger an emotional response within us. Here’s a little survival guide.
– If you’re around a family member(s) who you are especially judgemental or critical, remember that however critical they are of you, they’re even more so of themselves. No one who feels deeply accepting of themselves is capable of judging another, it just doesn’t work that way. The degree to which we criticise those around us is a translucent reflection of how much we criticise ourselves. So when that family member gets judgy about any aspect of your being, your life, your choices, appearance, whatever – pause a moment and realise how caught up in self-judgement they must also be. If you can stretch to it, see if you can find a little compassion for them; they live with that critical voice narrating all the things that are wrong with them all day, and that can’t feel good. Also bear in mind that any criticism they’re casting has nothing to do with you, it’s a reflection of them and their way of seeing the world. Some weirdos people hate the taste of chocolate, which doesn’t make chocolate any less amazing, it’s simply their opinion.
– There’s nothing quite like being back in the family home among your immediate family to bring about childhood regression, whereby all the in between years of growth, healing, insight and learning appear to crumble and we revert back to who we were decades ago. This can feel such a raw deal, especially if you’ve been on a journey of conscious expansion and of working through old patterns and shadows. It’s all good though, you’re still in there! Remind yourself of who you are now; you’re not that helpless little kid anymore, so show up as the strong adult you are now for whatever younger inner wounded part of you is feeling triggered. Be the you that your younger you (who’s still in there and feeling upset!) needed. You didn’t have the grown up version of you then, but you have you now, tools, skills, and life experience under your belt.
– In the nano second before you react, you have a window of opportunity where you get to pause and choose how you’re going to respond, rather than react habitually from emotional impulse. It’s that brief moment in time that will give you your power back and potentially prevent you from causing hurt or damage that can’t be undone. It also makes you a badass emotional regulation ninja – anyone can lose their shit, but holding it together takes Herculean mental strength. Be a ninja.
– Get curious about what’s being triggered. What are you feeling? What memories is this present situation bringing back to the surface for you? What age are you in the pain – is it now, or is your inner child or inner teenager the one who feels most wounded? What images are flashing before you? What stories are you telling? Where can you feel the emotion in the body? Go all detective on it, getting really curious about what’s showing up for you.
– If you feel a deeper wound has been picked at, acknowledge that you’re simply being shown where a little more healing is needed. People can only cause pain within us if they access an area of pain. It’s already there, they’re simply shining a light on it. And be super gentle with yourself in this, if pain is being accessed, this is when you show even more love and acceptance to yourself, not judgement.
– Get out of there! Never underestimate the power of a short walk in fresh air to downregulate your nervous system and get the higher, wiser you back online again. Around the block will do, into nature if you can, even standing outside the door if you can’t get further.
– Meditate. Because it’s a goddamn superpower. Keep it simple if you need to.
o Breathe in to the count of 4. Pause for 4. Breathe out for the count of 4. Pause for the count of 4. Repeat a few times until you feel calm or until you no longer want to roundhouse kick someone in the face, whichever comes first. This teeny moment of pause will buy you enough time to think through what to say or do next and interrupt a habitual angry/wounded/ragey mental pattern – presence for the win!
– As challenging as it can be, remember that we’re all just doing the best we can with the tools we have. When we know better, we do better. So whatever your family are showing up with is what they have to offer, they haven’t grown beyond that and expecting them to be different won’t make them different, but it will make you miserable. They have their own stuff they’re carrying, and as imperfect as they may be, they’re human too, and just like you, they want to feel happiness and peace, and they want to be loved and accepted, just as they are.