As we approach the beginning of this holiday season, I can’t help but think about families. Whether they are family by choice or family by default, we all have groups of people in our lives that we love and are thankful for yet, despite all that, these people that know us best also know how to best push our buttons. During this time of thanks, how can we better connect with these humans that sometimes make it difficult to be kind? A crash course in family drama and holiday chaos.
First, expect the worst. Okay, that sounds terrible but stay with me here…think about whatever it is you fear will happen at your next family gathering–that aunt will ask you for the 10,000th time, why you can’t find a husband, your cousin will ask you a million questions about his DUI even though you have told him you are a tax attorney, your mom will gently suggest that you skip that second helping of bread pudding (we all know what that means), or your brother will peacock around the house spouting off about how he is raking in the dough. All of those things that make your skin crawl; all those things that make you say “If they do this one more time, I’m going to lose my freaking mind…” Assume they will all happen. Why?
Because that is who these people are and people will rarely morph into the people you want them to be.
They have the absolute right to be whomever they want to be and when we show up hoping they will be different, we set ourselves up for a huge disappointment and drama. Instead, we just expect them to show up as they are, doing all the little things that they always do that drive us bananas.
Second, think about all the ways that those people want YOU to be different. Perhaps your grandmother wants you and your partner to get married, maybe your mom wants you to stop working and start breeding, your dad wishes you would stop getting tattoos, or your brother wishes you would be friendlier to his wife (whom you dislike). All of the humans in your life have ideas about how they want you to change. You are not exempt from this little game. Now, think about how much it bothers you when you feel those people judging you for all those things. Think about how much you would love it if these people would just let you be who you are and love you regardless, without all the judgment.
Third, decide to be the love and compassion that you want to receive. You can have a loving and accepting relationship with all of the humans that drive you crazy. You just have to decide to live in that space instead of playing the game. When your mom tells you to skip that second helping of bread pudding, you can choose to believe She is worried about my health and she thinks I eat like this all the time. She thinks I won’t find a partner if I’m overweight.
We can theorize and maybe even empathize with why these people are doing these things.
When she was my age, finding a husband was of prime importance and all women had to offer was their looks and their pedigree. She doesn’t understand how things work for women like me and that’s okay. We can accept that people don’t understand you and allow that to be okay–they might not understand your work, your values, your relationships to your body, your interest in tattoos or people of the same sex and that is okay. You don’t understand their confusion about all those things and that is also okay.
This holiday, what would it be like if we all just committed to showing up as we are and allowing others to do the same, warts and all?! We are all judging and, at times, confused by the lives of the people we love and there is nothing wrong with that. In fact, it could be what brings us all together–just a bunch of humans trying to figure things out and navigate their own paths while observing others on divergent journeys.
Cheers, my friends, I am thankful for all of you!