Regulars and Shorts

Coach Jeanette: Holiday haven

By Jeannette Maw

How to guarantee enjoyable family interactions this holiday season.
by Jeannette Maw

Psychologist and comedian David Grainer shares this definition of the holidays: “A time dysfunctional families obligationally get together to piss each other off.”

What if there was a way to virtually guarantee your enjoyment of all interactions with family and friends this holiday season? Sound too good to be true?

The easy answer might be to skip the family gatherings altogether and book a solo trip to Costa Rica instead!

Which might not be a bad plan, but for those of you who are up for the real challenge, here’s how to stack the deck in your favor and ensure this season’s family festivities are just that—festive!

Believe it’s possible

Hey, I’m a law of attraction coach. This tip list wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t include the suggestion to make sure you actually believe enjoyable family gatherings are possible.

I know it’s a stretch for some, but this is a great time to use our active imaginations. After all, we’ve seen stranger things happen, right? (Like a U.S. president named Hussein and an entire month of June rain in Utah.) It helps to get onboard with happy family interactions, too.

Believe in miracles. It’s good for the soul.

Don’t take it personally

What if you had a brain disorder or were so Pollyanna naïve that rendered you incapable of interpreting any harsh comment negatively? What a gift, huh?

You can give yourself that gift by simply choosing to be very conscious of your responses to others’ words and actions. Pretend you interpret words and actions only of love coming from others.

Even when Aunt Margaret intends a slight by commenting about what a good man you lost in that unfortunate divorce, or when oldest sis notes your talent for holding liquor, you don’t have to accept these insults or be bothered by jabs. It’s your choice what you think and feel. Own that power. After all, who cares what they think? (There’s tremendous freedom when we stop caring what they think!)

Bring along a core value

This handy trick works for any excursion you may not be looking forward to. While I’m a big fan of saying no when you really don’t want to go, on those (hopefully) rare occasions you don’t feel good about being a no-show, set an intention to experience a core value or two for the event.

Core values are what matter most to us in life; they make us who we are. So it’s impossible to have a bad time when we experience a core value. You’re guaranteed to feel your sweet spot!

This tip requires that you know what your core values are (email me for the exercise if you don’t already know yours) and that you remember to set the intention for it in advance.

This stuff works like magic—it’s transformed awful dates and family funerals more than once for me!

Cut some slack

We’ve all made mistakes. To those insensitive friends or family members who seem bent on ruining possibilities for peaceful, happy events, this is our chance to cut them some slack.

After all, we’ve all had those days (or decades) where we practiced the “misery loves company” routine or wished that everyone else were unhappy as we were. It happens. Give them space and send love (from an appropriately safe distance).

Remember that everyone loves everyone

Byron Katie says, “Everyone loves everyone; they just don’t know it yet.” That’s a helpful reminder when we experience an offering of something other than love. “That silly brother-in-law of mine has temporarily forgot how much he likes me! What a delusion!”

Don’t let them fool you—deep down we’re all fueled by love. Even if they don’t remember it, you can.

And it’s okay not to love everyone.

Some people are harder to love than others, and forcing yourself to be nice to or find a way to enjoy them may surpass the earthly skills of humans. It may be easier to enjoy your holiday gatherings by letting yourself off the hook for being full of love and light for everyone.

It’s okay to avoid certain folks. You know who they are. (Steve Hook)

Let it be—imperfect

Relinquish impossibly high standards that set you up for failure when reality doesn’t match that ideal. By releasing what you think it’s supposed to look or be like, you give yourself room to enjoy what is.

There is a true deliciousness in being able to enjoy imperfection. This one is highly recommended for family gatherings.

Offer no resistance

Take a lesson from the discipline of aikido and offer no resistance. There can be no fight when there’s nothing to push against.

Imagine yourself as a sphere of energy that offers no opposition and isn’t affected by others’ negative energy. Can you already taste the freedom? And seriously, studying aikido will help you master this skill in the relationship arena as well.

Self care helps

Author and coach Martha Beck quoted her wise friend, “What would you do if you knew that every good thing in your life depended on your getting enough rest? Because it does.”

It’s easier to feel good, to enjoy, to cut others slack, to laugh off intended insults, and to think the best of others when we’ve had proper sleep. And chocolate. Stock up on both.

Also, give yourself plenty of rejuvenating solitude during the holiday season. (Even if it’s a stolen 20 minutes in the master bathroom. People won’t want to know what took you so long, and since we don’t care what they think anyway, this can be a good holiday strategy.)

Time to yourself encourages centering and grounding, which is a crucial ingredient to surviving, let alone enjoying, the holidays.

Play the pretend game

Pretend it’s someone else’s family. This is the secret I’ve used for years at holiday gatherings. Actually, I really do attend other people’s family gatherings, so this one is easy for me.

Stop playing the pretend game

Alternatively, we could call this tip “Don’t Make It Mean Anything.”

We sometimes put our imaginative skills to less-than-good work when we make up what we think someone meant by that comment or glance. If you’re making something up that doesn’t feel good, stop it.

What’s the truth? She said, “Your dress is very festive;” not “You look like a Spanish whore.” We project lots of ugly stuff from our own minds into other people’s mouths. Give them a break, and clean up your thinking.

Last but not least

Your final guaranteed holiday enjoyment tip: Remember that we get back what we put out. So when you show up with unconditional love, it’s required you get it back. Just try it and see!

With that, here’s to your enjoyment of happy family gatherings this beautiful holiday season!

Jeannette Maw is a Law of Attraction coach and founder of Good Vibe Coaching in Salt Lake City.


This article was originally published on November 1, 2009.