Going Home for the Holidays; 3 Top Tips
Wherever in the world you live, if you’re planning to visit your family of origin over the holidays, it can be a stressful time. No matter how old or how mature you are in other areas of your life, there’s nothing like a visit to your family to bring back old familiar childhood patterns.
This is especially true if you’ve had critical parents or family members. A critical tone of voice can bring back feelings of being judged or criticized as a child, and you can immediately fall back into old reactions.
Here are 3 tips for not falling back into old habits, which will make your visit home easier and more pleasant for all:
Going Home for the Holidays, Tip # 1: Keep expectations to a minimum.
You may be thinking that this puts a negative spin on the visit, but I find that if you don’t have unrealistic expectations of family, you have a greater chance of enjoying your time with them.
If you go with an open mind, but without the expectation that family members will behave in any way other than they’ve always behaved, the visit might turn out to be more relaxing than you think.
Going Home for the Holidays, Tip # 2: Try a new game: How happy and comfortable can I make (mom, dad, Aunt Jenny) feel?
Of course, we can’t really “make” anyone feel anyway they don’t want to feel. That said, if we can pull our egos back a bit, and simply focus on causing someone else’s happiness, we can feel good and even have some fun.
The Buddhists have a term, ‘bodhisattva,’ which refers to someone who is interested in putting other peoples’ happiness before their own. Try this when you’re home, and you may be surprised by the responses you get.
Going Home for the Holidays, Tip # 3: Take care of yourself.
Self-care is really important when you’re not on your own turf. There are many things you can’t control, but one of the things you can, is how well you treat yourself.
Take a walk, go to an exercise or yoga class, have a coffee, read a novel, or do whatever it takes for you to wind down and rejuvenate; preferably on your own, with your partner or a close friend.
If you follow these tips when you’re home for the holidays, you will be less reactive, more peaceful, and better able to enjoy the true spirit of the season.
Dhyan Summers, MA, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist and director of Expat Counseling and Coaching Services Online. To book a free 30 minute session, visit www.expatcounselingandcoaching.com.