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Stop dreading family parties
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In this edition of LIFEadvice Coach Kim gives the tools you need to get a more positive mindset before your family holiday gatherings. - photo by Kim Giles
Question:

I have people in my family that have hurt me over and over again. I hate family holiday parties because a certain member of the family will be there. This person is horrible to me and always has been. I take it personally even though I shouldnt. Do you have any advice on surviving the holidays and being around this person?

Answer:

For many people, family gatherings are a huge source of tension, but you can attend that party and even enjoy yourself, if you adopt a healthy mindset first.

The question is, are you ready to change YOU in order to feel better?

There will be some who read this article and scoff at the whole idea of changing their mindset. They will do this because, in reality, they dont want to change themselves, they want other people to change.

You may also subconsciously want to stay in a place of judgment towards the offending family members and spend the holidays complaining about them. You may do this because being mad and placing blame on these bad people makes you feel superior or powerful. If you have low self-esteem issues (and are afraid you arent good enough) blaming others might be part of your coping strategy.

Be honest with yourself. Is there an ego part of you that likes complaining and gossiping about this person? Or are you ready to grow up and change yourself to feel better?

If you are ready to change yourself (because it is the only way to feel better) keep reading.

In my article two weeks ago titled Love toward all is the answer, I taught some principles that could help you survive your family parties, but you cant just read this article once and expect to have a different mindset. You are going to have to adopt some new principles and shift your perspective on yourself and your life completely. Here are some important principles to adopt:

Principle 1: We are all irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind, infinitely and absolutely valued, divine, good, loving children of God, and I mean all of us (without exception.) We all have the exact same intrinsic worth as everyone else, because we are all Gods children and part of him. No one can diminish your value and you can't diminish theirs.

Principle 2: The real point and purpose for our being on this planet is to learn (because life is a classroom) and the most important lesson we are here to learn is love. If this is truth, it means every single thing that happens to you here is a lesson on learning to love yourself, other people, or God at a deeper level.

Principle 3: Every person is having their own custom educational journey here. No one on the planet will get the same classes you got, so you cannot judge, compare or criticize how anyone else is doing. You aren't in their class.

Principle 4: The annoying, hurtful, bossy, rude people who show up in your life are there to serve as teachers. Their job is to push your buttons and bring your fears, defensiveness and weaknesses to the surface, so you can work on them. They dont create your fears or issues, though. They just trigger what is already in you, so you have the chance to become more aware and change.

It is really important you see your family situation accurately, as your perfect classroom. There is no accident that this person is in your life. This person is your teacher and you are probably theirs. The lesson you are here to teach each other is about rising above fear and choosing love towards yourself and others.

When a person triggers fear in you (through attack or bad behavior), ask yourself the following questions to get some clarity:

  1. What emotion does this person trigger in me?
  2. Is this emotion something Ive experienced at other times in my life?
  3. What fear does it bring to the surface? Is it my fear of not being good enough? Is it my fear of loss or being taken from?
  4. Has this fear been an issue before now?
  5. Where did it come from?
  6. Would it serve me to beat the fear and gain more confidence, strength and resilience?
  7. This person is not responsible for how they make me feel. I am responsible for how I feel, because I create my feelings with my thoughts. How could I change my thinking so I could feel better?
  8. All bad behavior is about the other persons fears about themselves. What is this person afraid of?
  9. When I can see this offending person as scared, I have more compassion for them. I can see their bad behavior as a request for love, reassurance or validation. What does this person need?
All attacks from others are requests for love. Their bad behavior doesnt make you want to love them, but it is what they need.

If you can rise above your fears (and defensiveness) and remember they cant hurt you, because you are infinite and absolute, you will be capable of giving them what they need. Doing this will make you feel strong and powerful, much more than being offended does. Your ego thinks being mad is strength, but judgment and anger are really weakness. Fearlessness makes you strong.

Remember, you are a unique, irreplaceable, incomparable soul, and nothing anyone thinks or says about you can change your value. You are bulletproof and no one can diminish you without your permission. What others think of you doesnt matter at all. You are the same you, no matter what. You always remain undiminished.

So, dont give anyone the power to diminish you in your mind. You control this.

Everyone is afraid they arent good enough, and this fear makes them behave badly. Fear makes people brag, boast, criticize and judge, but they do these things because they are scared about their own value. This behavior cant hurt you. Just let everything they dish out bounce off. Remember, when other people behave badly, its not about you. Its about their fears about themselves.

Treat them with love, kindness and respect. Do this because its the kind of person youve decided to be. Spend your time at the family party asking questions and listening to others. Show people you value them at the deepest level and see their infinite worth. The more you do this, the better you will feel about yourself.

You are a strong, loving, mature, wise person, who responds to every situation with strength and love.

You can do this.

(There is a new worksheet on my website called the Have a Happy Holiday Mindset. I strongly urge you to print it off and read it a few times a day to internalize these principles before Thanksgiving and Christmas.)
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