As the holiday season approaches, it’s natural for our hearts to swell with anticipation, but often, there’s a lot of tension and even dread of facing people who are unquestionably the most important and yet also are able to trigger you like nobody else. If you are bracing yourself for those inevitable moments of tension and disagreement, read on.

First, it is essential to recognize that just because they’re family doesn’t mean they are obliged to share your thoughts, feelings, or perspectives. Second, these differences can extend to even the most sensitive topics, triggering anger and resentment, followed by shame and guilt. Third, you may find yourself disappointed by both your own reaction and their insensitivity to your triggers. A you wrestle with your own demons, you may find your holiday spirit hopelessly plunging into sadness and despair. I myself have spent many of a holiday evenings in the bathrooms trying to stop my tears from welling up.

Today, I want to share with you three guiding principles which became a game changer during family holidays: compassion, grace, and personal responsibility.

Compassion allows us to acknowledge and accept that our loved ones might view the world differently. Their triggers, expressions of love, storytelling, or ways of sharing emotions might diverge from ours. It’s a reminder that understanding and empathy pave the path to peaceful interactions.

Grace becomes our beacon when these differences trigger our inner turmoil. It’s recognizing that their actions, however unsettling, often come from their own unique place. Extending grace means allowing space for diverse opinions without letting them disrupt our emotional balance.

Taking responsibility is the cornerstone of this approach. It involves delving into our inner selves, investing time in understanding our triggers, conflicts, and subconscious programming. I’ve spent countless hours on this introspective journey, unraveling knots of annoyance and anger. Surprisingly, what I found was that many of these reactions were born from my own unresolved issues.

The transformative power lies in resolving, healing, and reprogramming these emotional triggers within ourselves. Once we’ve navigated our inner landscape, the external triggers lose their power to disrupt our peace. Consequently, loving our family becomes more effortless, and holidays turn into moments of genuine joy rather than knots of tension.

This holiday season, let’s endeavor to approach our family gatherings with open hearts, armed with compassion, grace, and a commitment to personal responsibility. It’s not just about enjoying the festivities; it’s about fostering deeper connections and a sense of harmony that extends beyond these joyous occasions.

Warm wishes,

With Love and Light,

Dr. Anna Margolina, Ph.D.