Between the holidays, a pandemic, and anticipation for all of the unknowns in the new year, we have here quite a cocktail of anxiety that tastes different for everyone, but nonetheless is a hard one to swallow.
Before we face any family, whether it be virtual or in person, who will inevitably reflect back areas in our lives where we are vulnerable, it is important to remember who we are and have a foundation to rely on. A lot of times our inner critic rings to the voice of a close family member, so seeing said family member can heighten that inner critic. It’s interesting, I can be feeling so strong and confident and then I go home to my family and I turn into my sixteen year old self. Anyone else?
After learning things the hard way,I’ve created a survival guide that can help us set a strong foundation to stay connected to ourselves when we are faced with family.
Asking these fundamental questions will help you survive the holidays and help you stay connected to yourself:
What are the stories I am telling myself that are making me miserable?
Lost weight or gained weight.
Married, single, divorced, gay, straight, or anything in between.
Broke, rich, making ends meet.
In a relationship, not in a relationship.
Have your dream job, lost your job, at a job you hate to make ends meet.
This is all neutral information, but it’s the meaning we place on everything that creates discourse within ourselves. None of these pieces of information dictate our inherent worth. You are worthy and lovable because you are YOU. You are 100% whole at your core. We are all a work in progress and are at different places on our journey. We are no less lovable or deserving if we are not exactly where we want to be in every area of our lives.
For example, a story that could be running around our minds could be,
“I gained weight and am not lovable until I get back to where I used to be or want to be. I can’t love my body until then.”
Reframing that story could look like, “My body is fluctuating because that’s what bodies do. I am lovable and beautiful right now. I will love my body and treat it with compassion in every season.”
Another story could be, “I am single. What is wrong with me? I can’t enjoy the holidays until I have a partner by my side.”
Reframing that story could look like, “I am lovable and will be an incredible partner. I do not need to be perfect to meet someone. Love will find me. I can continue to develop a loving relationship with myself as I pour love into myself that I desire to give someone else right now.”
Reframing these stories and taking away the derogatory meaning we’ve given these parts of our lives will set the stage for us to meet ourselves with compassion. When we meet ourselves with compassion rather than being really hard on ourselves, it not only gives us capacity to make changes we want to make, but it allows us to meet others with compassion as well. Our lives and interactions with others are more peaceful and rich when we accept ourselves right where we are.
How can I be kind and compassionate to myself?
It seems simple, but this is such a powerful question. It is so easy to slip into self deprecation mode, and this inner critic voice is so sneaky. Take a moment to pause and reflect back on your thought reel. Were you putting yourself down? Were those thoughts something you would say to a friend? Life is much sweeter when we are a friend to ourselves and being cognizant of our thoughts is how we begin and maintain the journey of self compassion.
Note- This is a practice and I do invite you to not be hard on yourself for being hard on yourself! Giving ourselves compassion is something that needs to be cultivated, just like building a muscle.
What do I need?
When you feel yourself getting anxious or sad, take a moment. Go to the bathroom or to the spare bedroom, or turn your camera off on zoom. Breath. Ask yourself what you need. Listen, then give that to yourself. Your wellbeing is important and priceless. If you need to step out for a walk, or turn on your favorite song in your headphones, do that. This will help provide the endurance you need.
How can I stay in integrity with myself at this moment?
We know that our families do not always think or believe the same way that we do. When we’ve been doing a great deal of work to evolve and educate ourselves, this can be especially difficult. If we are interacting with an uncle who is on the opposite political spectrum, we may be waiting anxiously for them to say something really inappropriate, which can cause a great deal of angst.
It is important to stay in integrity with ourselves. If something is said that is not okay, it is important to speak up. But getting your point across will be more effective in a healthy, loving relationship. If you are not in a loving relationship with this person, it’s important to check in with yourself. Going out of our way to shame people into submission to do what’s right is not effective. Seeing people in their full humanity, rather than an us versus them mentality, is actually a more effective way to make change.
We want to speak truth, not simply be morally superior. This is a hard line to dance. Checking in with the first two steps will help you navigate how to stay in integrity with yourself and what is right.
What is something that makes me feel really good?
Now that we have set the stage internally, it’s important to show up in a way that feels authentic to you. Wear something for the holidays that makes you feel really good; whether that be your favorite sweater or little black dress. Pop on your favorite lipstick or favorite pair of socks.
It is really going to look different for everyone. I personally bought a fun Christmas sweatshirt that says “Merry Christmas you filthy Animals” because I am a huge home alone fan and that felt fun to me. It’s red- which is my color. And it gives me something to look forward to putting on Christmas morning. Whatever it is, you’ll be surprised how having something that makes you feel good helps you show up with confidence.
What’s my theme song?
This is something fun that makes you feel like a badass when you listen to it. It’s nice to be able to put it on and instantly feel yourself become more alive and confident. Right now, mine is Megan Thee Stallion – Savage . This will come in handy to listen to in the morning or when you need to step away and have a little pick me up!
Whether you are facing your family over zoom or in person, these are a few questions that will help us connect to the peace within ourselves in the midst of external chaos. I hope we connect to our agency and remember who we are this holiday season. The holidays can be difficult to navigate, but at the end of the day we can trust ourselves and what we need. Godspeed!