Coping Tools To Keep Your Family From Ruining The Holidays

There are many who need concrete coping tools to keep their family from ruining the holidays. This blog article offers just that. TIME journalist Meredith Melnick interviewed family and relationship expert Dr. Karen Ruskin for an article that offers readers 5 ways to keep your family from ruining Thanksgiving.  During this interview I was asked two main questions which included; what the top challenges are when it comes to getting together with family during the holidays as well as what are tools to deal with that. Check out this informative article. I also invite you to read my blog article below which offers the reader the following:

  • Top 4 challenges people experience during family holiday gatherings
  • 1 key coping tool
  • 3 step formula you can use for any holiday/time of year when confronted with the stress of family

Top Challenges:

  • Feeling like you have not met up to the expectations certain family members have of you/feeling judged by others
  • Feeling bad about yourself and what you have not accomplished and thought you would have to date
  • Feeling disconnected from the family unit
  • Wide range of emotions due to wounds of the past and the present (sadness, anger, disappointment, jealousy)

Coping Tools:

  • Develop a New Tradition- Mentally and Action Oriented

Old patterns (traditions) make us feel stuck in our emotional pain. Old traditions that hurt make us feel like we are not in control. A major component that leads to symptoms of depression for far too many is feeling out of control. Example, if each year you tell yourself that holiday time is a curse for you because there is always something bad that happens, the words, your statement to yourself, becomes a “tradition”. In addition, more than likely you will notice something bad does happen because you are looking for it. One can always find bad just as one can always find good, depending upon the lens of which we are viewing from.

Rather create a new mental tradition which is to put on the glasses of positivism upon which you view your life this holiday season. Rather tell yourself something positive in your life, be thankful for something that you have. Think of your own example. I will offer one for the purposes of clarity of this point. For an example, you would say to yourself; “I have a job which allows me to feed myself and my family, and even have enough money to take a family vacation each year and for that I am thankful for”. Then, once your ‘mental tradition’ has made a shift creating a new mental tradition of positivism, create a new ‘action oriented tradition’ that is fitting to your mental tradition. For an example, in this scenario the person is now going to view their life through the lens of positive that; “I have money to feed my family”. An action shift/tradition shift would be that you and your children (assuming in this case you have children, if not then do this yourself) go to a shelter and feed the homeless through a volunteer effort. This new mental and action oriented tradition makes a healthy shift that offers you to feel more in control and shifts you out of your old emotional pain. Reminder: create your own mental and action oriented shift that is healthy to develop a new tradition. If you have one, you are welcome to share yours on this blog.

  • Mindful Awareness- 3 Step Formula
  1. Be mindfully aware, this is true cognitive and conscious awareness, that your beaker is full from certain hurt  (this allows you to validate your feelings).
  2. Take ownership of what you can do, what steps you can take to feel good, not what others can do to help you to feel good. This is not about what others can do to release what is in your beaker. This is about your coping and your mental and action oriented methods to move forward.
  3. Utilize a positive self talk technique about yourself. Also, remind yourself that what another person says or does (e.g., says something hurtful, argues) says everything about them and nothing about you. You can choose not to accept their invitation to argue.

The outcome of implementing this 3 step formula helps you to feel more at peace with yourself and therefore stronger to cope with other’s behaviors.

I hope you enjoyed this blog, both having the opportunity to read the final product of an ensemble piece in TIME as well as getting an “inside peak” further into this therapist’s insights all in the effort to help you to help yourself get to a better place.

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