5 Steps to Surviving the Holiday Season With Your Loved Ones

One of my favorite things to do during the holiday season is stay up late at night (usually by myself), listen to Kenny G’s Miracles: The Holiday Album and look at the Christmas tree. It fills me with a sense of peace, wonder and appreciation for my life and my loved ones.

To be totally honest, the holiday season also brings a lot of stress to me and my family. It seems counterintuitive because the meaning of Christmas is to celebrate Jesus’ birth, to give thanks and to enjoy our loved ones. Yet so often our attention has been focused on tiffs about something that happened over 20 years ago, a family member throwing shady comments, or getting a gift that we are not crazy about (avoid this by purchasing something from my holiday guide). There have been many years that I have contemplated not coming home for Christmas because I didn’t want to walk on eggshells (for fear of hurting people’s feelings) or land myself directly in World War III.

In my e-course, Yes, I Am: Affirming Your Way Into the Life You Want, I talk a lot about preparing for our obstacles and challenges. As we walk our spiritual paths, it’s up to us to shine our little light and show up as the highest version of ourselves (the version of us that isn’t bothered by petty drama). Here are some ways that you can thrive during the holiday season even when you’re around family members who drive you nuts:

1. Show up for your assignment.

In her book, The Universe Has Your Back, Gabby Bernstein talks about how the world is your classroom and people are your assignments. As you contemplate going home for the holidays, remember that everything and everyone can be your teacher, if you let them. Family members who trigger you, get under your skin and make your blood boil are giving you a great gift -- the opportunity to shine the light of self-awareness on your reaction.

In my blog post, Never Waste a Good Trigger: How to Harness the Power of Discomfort, I talk about how triggers invite us to go deeper to find out where our reaction is really coming from. Instead of reacting with judgment and negativity, you can choose to show up with curiosity and compassion. You are being shown the parts inside of you that need your attention, your loving kindness and your healing. This year, set the intention of showing up fully for the assignment and approaching every moment with curiosity and compassion.

2. Prepare yourself energetically before your encounter with your family.

In my blog post, The Time I Made a Priest Cry AKA How to Have an Uncomfortable Conversation, I talk about how important it is to go into an uncomfortable conversation (or situation) in the highest energetic state possible.

If you go over your grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner and you are tired and hungry, your fuse is going to be shorter than if you are well-rested and had a small snack beforehand. If you went on a run before the festivities, you’d be in a much more relaxed state than if you have lots of tension already built up inside of you.

Practice self-care and get yourself into the right frame of mind to deal with people who will more than likely be coming at you sideways.

Before you even get out of the car, do some deep breathing for one minute and invite God to the party. Ask Him to help you deal with the situation and to show up as your best self.

3. Limit the amount of time you spend at home during the holidays.

If you find the holidays to be a miserable experience, you don’t have to spend a week at home. Perhaps you stay at a hotel, so that you can regroup at night. Or you limit your time home to just Christmas dinner. You don’t have to let the stress of the season overtake you. It’s time to get creative.

If your family can’t understand why you don’t want to spend seven glorious days with them, that’s on them. You don’t have to argue with crazy — it’ll win every time and you’ll feel like poo. Opt out of the drama by limiting the time around them.

4. Breathe and count to five before you respond.

Many moons ago, my then boyfriend introduced me to an aunt of his.

Him: “Tía, this is LaTisha.”

I shake her hand.

Her: “You look fat in that dress.”

Me: *Gasp

I wish someone would have recorded that moment. I bet the look on my face was priceless. I was so taken aback that I didn’t respond. I’m glad I didn’t because, back then, I would have really responded and that would have gotten us nowhere.

That being said, there is always that one family member (or, in my case, all of my immediate family) that always comes at you sideways. Whether it’s the way you look, what you do for a living, how you’re raising your kids, etc., this family member always has an opinion and it’s usually snarky.

I want you to consider that the pettiness, shadiness and ugliness of anyone’s comment is an indicator of how unhappy they are with their lives. They can’t help but transfer some of that energy to you.

However, just because someone extends you an invitation to act from your lowest self does NOT mean that you have to accept said invitation. Instead of responding, take deep breaths. This signals your brain to exit the “fight or flight” mode that has been activated by the unnecessary commentary. You can then choose how you want to respond.

Consider that sometimes the best response is no response at all.

5. Forgive yourself and get back in alignment with your highest self.

If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.
— Ram Dass

Our families have the ability to trigger us in a way that no one else can. Believe me, I know. I have to walk my talk big time when I’m around certain family members.

I’m gonna be honest and say that I fail more than I succeed. I am so triggered by a comment or action that I turn into the angry teenager who has to pop off at the mouth and let people know about themselves. However, this isn’t constructive AND I feel like poo afterwards.

I want you to know that just because you fail in that moment does NOT mean that you are failure. Just because you made a mistake does NOT mean that you are a mistake. Just because you fell down does NOT mean that you have to stay down.

Get back up. Get back into alignment with love and get back on your spiritual path. Forgive yourself and start again.

In order to thrive during the holidays, we’ve got to reframe our perception of this time -- we are being given an incredible gift -- that of healing, self-awareness and an opportunity to really put into practice that which we say we believe.

I wish you nothing but peace this holiday season. You are strong enough to overcome any obstacle, any challenge and to heal any trigger that presents itself to you.

Now it’s your turn. Comment below and let me know how you deal with the holiday craziness.

I’m cheering for you. Like your last name is Griswold.


This article is for informational purposes only, even if and to the extent that it features the advice of physicians and medical practitioners. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.