This Holiday season has been challenging as family members chose whether or not to travel and spend time together after months of time apart.
Many family and friends have different comfort levels of what works for them in terms of safe practices during a pandemic. The key to navigating this time and making your self-care a priority is to be clear with yourself and others what your vision of a safe and peaceful holiday looks like and communicate that plan unapologetically and confidently.
This year after being apart from many family members for what will be a year next month, we made the decision to stay home for Thanksgiving and not travel. While in my heart I wanted to spend time with family and friends I immediately felt anxious and uncomfortable at the thought of several families coming together under one roof to spend time together and share a meal.
What I have learned personally and professionally is that the path of peace is always the path that will be right for you. Do not let yourself be guilted or manipulated into veering off the path of peace to accommodate someone else’s agenda. Choosing to people please over peace of mind will always leave you feeling emotionally hungover in every way.
I often get asked by clients, “Isn’t that selfish to not see family and friends, don’t you think that is harsh?” Pandemic or not, self-care should be what you honor above all else. What is selfish is someone giving you a hard time and using guilt as a way to get what they want.
Self-care sounds like this, “I’m really feeling overwhelmed and tired not to mention anxious about numbers rising again, what works for me this year is to limit contact outside to those I only live with and lay low. While I would love to see everyone, I need to honor what I feel comfortable with. I appreciate your understanding.”
Selfish sounds like this, “I can’t believe you won’t be coming over for Christmas, everyone is really upset and we all miss you so much, I just don’t see the harm in stopping by for dessert, what’s the big deal?
Self-care sounds like this, “I am disappointed too and for me this is what works this year. When things settle down and are less risky, we can talk about getting together.” End conversation and don’t take the bait of guilt.
A person who respects your boundaries would respond like this, “While we will miss seeing you this year, I understand how you feel and would not want you to feel anxious or uncomfortable about getting together.” No guilt, no manipulation, no drama and no emotional hangover. Clean and direct.
2020 has brought us many lessons; perhaps the one we can practice this month is to continue to honor our boundaries and to communicate in a clean, direct way leaving no room to be bullied into serving someone else’s agenda.
These are lessons and styles of communication that we have to practice regularly in order to build up the muscle of confidence and ease in communicating our needs. Once you practice this it gets easier and easier and the fear of conflict or a negative reaction begins to diminish.
I work with individuals who are working on this in their late teen years and others who are in their eighties. It’s never too late to learn how to honor what works for you.
YOU ARE WORTH IT!
Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing at Fritz, Stanger & Associates. Telehealth appointments are available, visit www.fritzstanger.com for more information.