1. Why are you going to be with family? (Owl)
No, really – This is not a rhetorical question! Whether you enjoy or dread being with family, if you are there, there is a reason for it! What do you get out of it?
2. What are you worried about? (Warrior)
Is your mother-in-law going to criticize your cooking? Is your uncle going to laugh at your new job? Whatever you are worried about, research shows it is helpful to anticipate what could happen and plan how you would like to respond. And remember, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt.
3. How can you make it fun? (Jester)
The holidays are meant to be a break from hard work and daily routine. Don’t be afraid to introduce an activity that is silly and fun! Is your dad not really the type? I wouldn’t be so sure! Too often we assume others want to stick to old (and sometimes boring) patterns. Try seeing what happens if you spice things up! Click on the Jester exercises for ideas, or comment below to share an idea of your own.
4. What is really going on? (Sleeper)
Sometimes a house full of family can be overwhelming because everyone reverts back to old ways of behaving and relating. When arguments break out over who should carve the turkey or what time you should all sit down to eat, it can help to know this is NOT what you are really arguing about! Tune out all that surface level “noise”, and try to see what people are really after. If your kid brother wants to carve the turkey, for example, he might just be looking for someone to ‘notice’ he’s not actually a kid anymore! And if it’s not going to be the turkey, maybe there is another way you can help him feel recognized for the young man he has become.
5. What do others need? (Ally)
The holidays stir up a lot of anxiety, and it is easy to get caught up in our own experiences of others – what they do or don’t do to make it a good or bad experience for us. Plato once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” This goes for family members as well. And the truth is, you probably don’t know all of what they are dealing with. Try focusing on how you can help others walk away feeling seen, heard and loved.