Will I “survive” the holidays this year? This is the question – in one form or another – on the minds of many right now. The holidays can be exciting for some, but an anxiety inducing nightmare for others. When you’re obligated to be with people who’ve known you your whole life but who may have no idea who you really are, the thought of putting in face time can be overwhelming. When it comes to holiday togetherness, I’ve heard so many people say, “but I have no choice.”
This is not true, though. We always have a choice. But with that choice comes tough questions. For example: how much discomfort are you willing to bear for peace of mind? Are you willing to tell your Mom that you won’t be home on Christmas Eve? Are you ready to tell your partner that you’d like to spend the holidays on vacation instead of at the in-laws? Is there a something major in your life that you’ve been waiting to bring up, and you just can’t take it any longer?
I believe family is important, but I also believe that you should spend your time on this earth in the company of people who make you feel good, regardless of relation. So often, we get wrapped up in the guilt of obligation that we forget about the toll this time of year can take on our mental health. We have to remember to prioritize ourselves, and we have to be willing to sit in some discomfort if we want the possibility of change. Difficult conversations are never fun at the beginning, but I challenge each of us to step up and lean into the idea of expressing wants and needs when it comes to family and the holidays.
The only constant in life is change, right? Change is good for us, and it pushes us to think differently. Family traditions are no different. I believe we all have to find a balance of keeping others happy during the holidays and maintaining our sanity. We have to learn how to be clear in expressing our needs, our intentions and our desired outcomes even when – especially when – we know the other person (or group of people) in the conversation likely does not feel as we do.
Be brave, friends – you’ll thank yourself later.
For some tips and advice, check out the following articles:
Brené Brown: “Clear is Kind. Unclear is Unkind"
Fortune Magazine: “Surviving Difficult Conversations at the Holidays”
Psychology Today: “10 Ways to Make Difficult Conversations Easier”