The holidays are a notorious time for a clashing of family values. So as we head into a busy season of festivities, keeping feuds and flare-ups off the menu can be challenging. With expectations high and breathing room low, you may find that the potatoes aren’t the only thing in danger of boiling over. How many of us have arrived home bright with excitement then found ourselves bristling with resentment before too long?
Whether we feel out of alignment with the prevailing family beliefs or lost in translation during an intense bout of drama, anger and frustration can cause our internal dialogue to go haywire. It’s during moments like these that we really notice the effects of our yoga and meditation practice. We see it in the pause before reacting, our increased patience in the face of probing questions, or our ability to remain calm amidst a heated dinner table debate. And as we scrape our pie plate with a hint of a smile, we’re quite willing to bet our family members see it too. But challenging relationships have a way of throwing us off balance, even when we’re feeling our most centered. Despite our best efforts, there may come a time when we feel triggered and lose our cool.
Should this happen, first of all, go easy on yourself. Conflict can be very upsetting, but what really matters is how you respond. We often want to hold on to the hurt we feel, but our grudges only shackle us to old, unhelpful patterns. Forgiveness is a tricky thing – easy to believe in, yet extremely challenging in practice. But it’s not something we do for the other person alone. The act of forgiving allows us to release the hold that hurt has on us, so we can move forward feeling liberated and lighter. It doesn’t even require that we condone the other person’s viewpoints or actions, it’s simply a choice to disentangle ourselves from the past so we can move on.
Challenging as it may be, we can’t expect everyone to see the world as we do. Sure, after much trial and error, “your way” is the one that works best for you, but it may be completely different from what your loved ones are having success with. Allowing those around you to find their own way is an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships. Instead of trying to change your family or friends, try focusing on small ways to support them unconditionally. Accepting them as they are will eventually ease your own frustration and strengthen your bond. And the example of kindness you set just might have a ripple effect through this year’s get together.
Whether you’re facing tough family dynamics or you adore every minute of togetherness, we’ve chosen some classes to help you bring a little extra patience and compassion to the holiday table.