The holiday season is in full swing and many are feeling more triggered than ever. As you spend more time with family and friends, let’s provide you with a four step process to keep in mind while you are hitting up holiday parties, attending family get-togethers and simply being more social.
Love, safety and belonging are the three basic needs of a human being. During the holidays, we can put emotional safety on the back burner in order to receive love and belonging from family and friends. However, you will best serve yourself by mindfully protecting your emotional safety.
Though family contact may be limited during your early stages of recovery, there will come a time where you may re-engage your family dynamic. When reconnecting with your family, it is important to establish emotional safety, especially during the holidays.
The following four step process offers a practical way to lovingly protect your emotional safety while attending family functions. Family get-togethers can serve up lots of emotions; we see old people, fall into our family roles and are often confronted with limiting belief systems.
Here’s a sequence taken from my own personal playbook. Try these on for size:
Step 1: Set an intention – Setting an intention is a valuable skill. It allows you to bring forward clear intent of a positive outcome. You positively affirm what you intend to experience instead of coming at the situation with limitation and lack. An example of an intention would be, “I intend to be responsible for my own emotional reactions when talking to my mom.” Intentions are powerful, so take some time to come up with one that resonates with you. You can keep this intention throughout the entire holiday season or switch it up for every family event.
Step 2: Remember that we are all human, even your family members – It’s always a good reminder to know that the person you are talking to is a human being who perhaps hasn’t done any inner work. That’s okay. You on the other hand, have been to therapy, read self-help books and are actively engaging your own recovery process. Not everybody is as invested or committed to personal growth as you may be. Give them the dignity of their own process and stay responsible for own experience. Don’t expect others to understand your experience. And when possible. seek to understand versus blame.
Step 3: Feedback is just information – Just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean it’s truth. You are an adult now. You are no longer a victim to your circumstance. You get to decide what’s true for you. You get to decide how you spend your time. Receive the feedback, acknowledge any truth in the feedback and let go of the rest. The trick with feedback is letting go of the part that isn’t useful without judgment, shame or off-putting body language. “Let it go” becomes a mantra on repeat.
Step 4: Take the perspective that this is an opportunity for growth – Each experience with your family is an opportunity to practice your new skills and build stronger relationships with others. Stay open to the possibility that things could improve in your relationships. When you grow, sometimes those around you grow too. This may seem like wishful thinking, but I’ve seen miracles take place in recovering families. Stay growth minded versus fixed minded and you can not only make it though the holiday season but actually go through it gracefully.
Emotional safety can be incredibly empowering as you take control of your own inner experience. You can’t expect others to change but you can change how you interact with others. Choose to show up in possibility and put your best self forward. Keeping yourself emotionally safe is a powerful tool that can assist you with personal boundaries. May love, belonging and safety work in harmony for you this holiday season!