Did you NOT go with your first impulse to say "No, thank you" and succumbed to the "should", "must", "have to" of holiday time social gathering? Well kids, get your boxing gloves on! Here is a cheatsheet to survive the melee as best you can (and mentally note who's really on your side).
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Trust your gut instinct - the brain can mire you in endless logic loops, the heart can trick you with warning or warming stories of past. Your gut, on the other hand, is very basic and answers in plain old "Yes" or "No". Try it.
Pay attention to your feelings - how you feel matters. They are signals alerting you that something's not right either about how you are being treated or about a need you value in life, not being met.
Are you triggered? - you feel flushed all of a sudden, you want to yell but are choked up, you have a hard lump in your throat, you feel ashamed, eyes well up with tears, you get very angry, your heart beat is racing, you want to be anywhere but here, you start complying with things you don't want to do, you put yourself down, you use comic relief to dispel your unease, you stare wordlessly in horror, you pretend you did not hear or understand something rude, you have an unusually emotional outburst, etc.
What's your game plan? - You know your aunt or brother is going to say/do this. How will you respond differently to throw them off? (walk away, laugh, don't engage, picture them in their underwear, say "Yes, your right!" (& nothing else), be vague, change the topic, start another conversation with someone else, keep moving so they will have to keep following you around, take bathroom/fresh air breaks, say you just recovered from a serious virus while touching their hand, etc... :))
Make Space and Time your best friend - do not commit to anything in the moment. Neither a lender nor a borrower be. Don't plan on spending hours in a place you are not comfortable in. (a few time/space friendly excuses are: I'll check my social calendar back home and get back to you later, I won't be able to answer that immediately, I'll have to ask my babysitter, my work has me working unscheduled hours, hmm..interesting.., that was intense - let me think about it, hey I see someone I know - I'll be back!). Hem, haw and feint your way out of a tight spot. Don't let that inner voice guilt you.
Channel Your Inner Toddler (if you dare) - say no, No, NO!, and another helping of Nooooo! If they think poorly of you then you must go out of your way to give them every reason to. Have fun and throw an unreasonable fit while you're at it:).
Boundaries - think back to the last time you displayed intense emotion. Your outburst or suffering will tell you that someone knowingly or unknowingly stepped on something you really care about. Those are your boundaries. What you like or dislike, what you want or don't want. Stay away from people who repeatedly do not respect your boundaries. They are telling you that you don't matter. Don't sacrifice yourself to please them. They don't care.
Share responsibility - there will always be some of us who will shirk responsibility of tasks or feelings and make someone else do or feel them. And then there are those of us who enable them. Call it moral laziness or over zealous functioning. Neither is healthy. Stay connected (I care about you) but don't do more than your share (boundaries). You are giving everybody around you a chance to grow up and have a potentially meaningful relationship with you.
Self Care - take care of yourself, especially before social gatherings, by eating healthfully, hydrating regularly, rest/sleeping well. Drink in moderation socially, take short walks even if it is up and down stairs. Decide to put yourself first this year much like oxygen masks on a troubled plane trip with kids.
Call a friend - ask someone trusted, ahead of time, if you can call/text anytime you need a break or someone to talk to. Send them a copy of these suggestions so that they are aware of what you are trying to do and are quietly supportive.
Lastly, don't forget - however 2018 ends up playing out, all will be well, eventually.
Wishing you the Season's Best! Though, if you want to once and for all move from surviving to Thriving this year on, get in touch. We'll talk inner game and strategy at length!
beaucoup d'amour, Cheryl
The author is a Personal Empowerment Life Coach, Certified Hypnotist and Reiki Master. She combines coaching, hypnosis, and energy work in a unique 3-pronged mindset-body-spirit approach to reveal to clients the results they already have waiting inside. She is motivated by her clients' strength in just showing up each session.