Holidays: How to stay away from proving and defending?
How to stay away from proving and defending during the holidays
Staying Happy for the Holidays
Here come the holidays! As adults we often feel the pressure to make these next months special, expecting to give to and receive from family and friends Hallmark tinged moments filled with warmth and closeness. Often these desires do not match up with the realities of spending time with those we care about. The cold fact is that, if mismanaged, ’tis the season to be disappointed.
Inviting key players from our pasts into our adult lives can make sparks fly
Why? Because when we are around the reminders of our pasts (despite our solemn pledge to ourselves not to) we often regress into the roles we played as children. Growing up, we were not yet powerful enough to go it alone. So we had to prove ourselves and defend ourselves in order to get the external attention we needed to survive.
Regardless of this attention being positive or negative, the focus of others was vital to our well-being because we needed others to guide us through our development. “The best little boy in the world.” “The smart one.” “The bad girl.” “The funny one.” These were the array of adolescent personas we assumed or were cast into in order to get our caregivers’ and peers’ vital attention.
Fortunately, we have matured, and, as adults, we are up and running independently. Unfortunately, the long established family communication rules and operating systems are rarely updated and, so, remain steeped in history. We (or they) show up and these old ways of perceiving each other resurface. We find ourselves expecting and abiding by the past instead of enjoying the present.
People struggle because they do not accept their circumstances
People get the definition of acceptance wrong all of the time. Acceptance does not mean agreement. We do not have to agree with the politics, judgments or expectations of our families. Acceptance is about putting our struggle down – not needing to prove our point or get another to understand us. The best way to feel close to another person is to stop trying to convince them to see things our way. When we entrench ourselves in needing to be “right”, what we are actually doing is imposing “wrongness” on the other person for having another belief or viewpoint. This only creates emotional distance. I often tell my clients the goal of a successful interaction is not to prove or defend yourself. Your task is simply to be yourself.
So instead of setting an agenda, why not just decide to enjoy the many different perspectives and experiences your family members have collected and are excited to share with you. Consider it your opportunity to witness the show-and-tell of yester-year from the comfort of being all grown up.