The holidays are notorious for being a stressful time of year for many people, but why is this?  It is supposed to be a time of joy and family.  Ahhh, family.  Often times the holidays bring family in closer than where you have kept them all year long.  We tend to set natural boundaries with family members as to how close we allow them into our lives.  For example if your sister is constantly complaining, how often do you actually want to hang out with her during the year?  Or perhaps, one of your parents creates an incredible amount of “drama” in their life, how close do you get to that chaos throughout the year?  So here you are experiencing anxiety, stress, and perhaps hope that everyone will leave their bad habits at the door this holiday season. Below is food for thought on how to handle those who do not leave their bad habits at the door, but rather bring them right into the beautifully decorated living room full of family and friends.

Here are some things to think about and try:

1. If a certain person always acts a certain way, don’t expect change, rather navigate interactions with them to limit the amount of their toxicity entering into your experience.  Yes, at times people choose to evolve and rid themselves of negative behavior and patterns that inhibit their life.  Perhaps you have spent some time doing this and wish others would do the same.  If this person comes in with the same old attitude, do not engage with them the same old way.  If you engage in the same old pattern with that person, you are going to end up with the same outcome.  If you do what you have always done, you are going to get what you always got!

2. How do you engage differently?  Make an intention of how you will handle this person.  Make your own choices of who, how, and when you engage with people at the party.  You may limit the time you spend with that person.  Perhaps, excuse yourself from the conversation if they begin to bring up topics that usually end in turmoil.  If you are not able to take space from the situation, picture the conversation as light, simple, effortless, as if clouds are floating by.  The information may feel like it is going in one ear and out the other.  You do not have to fully engage with that sister who constantly spreads negativity and complaints, etc.  Let her do her thing and not let her enter into your own inner joy, protect your inner joy.

3.  Spread the joy.  Change the subject if things are getting negative to a topic with a more positive tone.  This is the first year in a while you could say, how about them Broncos and people would be excited rather than frustrated to talk about our Denver team, so use it!

4. Breath!  Keep your body in a calm and aware place.  The old you may be wrapped up in engaging in negativity to prove a point or attempt to create change.  By allowing someone to get to you , you run the chance of  missing out on the joy others may bring to the day.

5.  Feel empowered.  I know that all of us can execute these strategies in tough family situations.  Having a plan and strategy can help you feel more in control rather than in defend and react mode.  Defend and react mode feels out of control, depletes energy, and decreases joy that can be experienced in the day.

Happy Holidays!