Making Thanksgiving Work for You
Family dynamics and the operating systems within each family can be tricky. Even in the healthiest of families there is always going to be some discord or unrest at times. Holidays are the most common time for these disputes to arise.
Within the family system it is uncanny how when you go back to your childhood home for Thanksgiving, or any time, you become the person you were when you lived there. For example, you go right back to your teenage self and so do your siblings. Your parents may even treat you like children again. In some family systems you may still be being treated like a child even though you live miles and miles away.
Going home to see family members who you don’t necessarily get along with or who just get under your skin is not the most pleasant experience. Also, being treated like a child isn’t really a self-esteem booster either.
Why should you dread the holidays? Don’t you think you have the right to relish and enjoy the holidays? It’s such a wonderful time of year rich in tradition and festivities. You maybe wanting to enjoy the holidays but cannot think of how you possibly could when you must see relatives that really don’t make you feel so great. What do you do?
Mentally Preparing for the Holidays
The first thing you must do is remember that you are a grown adult now who has the right to express themselves and demand kindness and respect. Remember, you are no longer a child. Some family members, especially mothers and fathers still treat their adult children like little children, and this causes great distress for most adult children. You must be able to speak up and remind your family members that you are a grown adult and would like to be treated as such. Remember, when you are using your voice and expressing yourself always do it with an assertive, calm voice. If you are passive, you will not be taken seriously and if you are aggressive, you risk the person you are speaking to become defensive, their walls go up and their ears shut. Remember it is a conversation not a confrontation. A lot of people fear having conversations where they must assert themselves and ask for what they need. It is not a confrontation. There is nothing confrontational about asking for how you would like to be treated and respected. Always have an open, loving heart when you express yourself. Hopefully you will be heard and your relationships with family members will deepen and grow stronger.
Keep your side of the street clean. What I mean by this is to remember that you don’t have to react when someone around you is not acting the way you wish they would. Once you have expressed your boundary if the other person is not willing to respect your boundary, then you don’t have to react to them, you don’t have to engage with them. Focus on taking care of you and enjoying yourself to the best of your ability. Engage with family members who do respect your boundaries and who you do feel good being around.
Please remember that it is more than alright to put boundaries in place with family. It is actually a very healthy thing to do. It is wonderful for your mental health and your self-esteem.
Remember to practice, practice, practice using your voice and expressing your boundaries. It will feel uncomfortable at first, perhaps, but after a while it will be second nature. It will become your new normal.
It’s time to start taking care of you. Nurturing your soul. Stoking your internal flame. You are worth it!
Love, Peace & Happiness!
Kirsten Louise Cantley