I can totally relate to stressful families in so many ways. I DREADED the holidays most of my life.
Every time I would come home, it would cause stress and anxiety, and it would emotionally DRAIN me. Janiece and I even had a little joke called, “Operation Make Brad Love Christmas Again,” because I genuinely hated it.
Every year since I was a kid, it’s just STRESS. It’s just ANXIETY. There’s so much blame, anger, and resentment. There’s money stress. When one person isn’t around, someone else talks shit about that person.
It’s endless narcissism. There’s an unrealistically high expectation, and when I don’t meet those expectations, I’m made out to feel like I’m not worthy of love.
Last year, one of my family members completely avoided me the entire time I was home for Christmas, and I remember being in the car with Janiece crying about why that person doesn’t love me.
Like, what did I do wrong? Why do I deserve this? Why is my family so fucked up? There are little digs thrown at me in almost every situation that are completely rude. And when I’m back home, my family doesn’t even ask about my life. For example this past week, we were there for 4 days and not once did a single person in my family ask about Janiece or my life.
So I could go on and on about how stressful my holidays have been. What’s interesting is that my wife’s family is so beautiful. The holidays are full of love, excitement, energy, giving, poking fun and just being relaxed. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. And I’m so grateful to be welcomed into that family without question.
So I’ve seen both sides. I’ve seen beauty, and I’ve seen shit.
I want to help you experience a beautiful holiday while you’re in the shit. I’m going to give you tactical strategies to actually love the holidays instead of hating them.
This is what I personally do whenever I go home. And my goal is that you choose to use this to start loving the holidays with your family again.
Something you need to realize is that your family has nothing to do with your happiness. The people in your life are not responsible for your happiness. YOU ARE. I talk about this in detail in my online course, “Appreciation Academy.” ONLY I MAKE ME HAPPY. I am the only one responsible for the smile on my face.
So the first step of all of this is to take ownership of your emotions. Life is made up of 2 things.
2.) The meaning you give to the events that happen
If you choose to make your holidays mean that you have a horrible family life, then you’re right, and that’s precisely what will happen. If you decide to make it mean something empowering, you’ll experience that too.
A simple example to show you what I mean is if a man opens the door for a woman, and she’s really excited about it, it has nothing to do with his act of opening the door. It has to do with what she interprets him opening the door to mean.
Think about it: If that dude opens the door for a different woman, and she’s all pissed off thinking “I can get it myself, I don’t need you,” the event never changed. He still opened the door. She just made it mean something different in her mind.
What if instead of the holidays being a stressor, you adopt the meaning that the holidays are an opportunity for you to show love to your family? How could that change your family dynamic?
The reality is that your biography is not your destiny. Meaning that just because you grew up with shitty holidays, it does NOT mean that you need to experience that again. Realize that your happiness is YOUR responsibility. When you’re happy, it affects EVERYONE around you!
So stop asking, “why does this suck so bad?” and start asking, “How can I show my family love over the holidays.”
In fact, one of my favorite quotes of all time is from Tony Robbins, and it says, “Trade your expectations for appreciations and your life changes instantly.” What does that mean?
What if instead of EXPECTING your family to act different and being disappointed when they don’t fall in line with that expectation, you appreciate the contrast it gives you on your life. What if you are grateful for the time you DO have with them. Can you imagine how much that would help?!
So let’s get into some tactical strategies that you can use.
You need to realize that HURT PEOPLE HURT PEOPLE. The people that make the holidays all about them and judge you aren’t saying anything about your behavior. They’re upset with their own lives. They are in pain. They’re deeply hurting.
So what if you chose compassion instead?
What if you had empathy for the fact that they were hurting and what if you decided to make it mean that you were going to love them. I used to believe that if my family is negative, that means they suck. Now, whenever they’re negative, I make it mean that they just need a hug.
How would that change things for you? What if they were complaining and gossiping and talking about all the things that were wrong with the world and you just went up to them and said it was gonna be okay and gave them a hug? Choose compassion.
When they make little digs at you, what if you instantly forgive them? What if you just decide to let it go? What if you brush it off? What if you realize that it has nothing to do with you and 100% to do with them?
You being angry about what they said doesn’t change their behavior. It doesn’t make them reflect on who they are. It just makes them feel worse about you. So what if you choose to forgive when those digs are inevitably made toward you and the way you lead your life?
I’m telling you right now, letting it go and choosing to forgive makes you feel lighter. And when you feel lighter, you’re going to notice their responses change.
This is huge. Write this down: It’s impossible to love someone if you’re judging them. When you try to correct their behavior, what you’re saying is “I disapprove of the way you act, and I judge you for being wrong!” How do you think that makes them feel?
You’re basically saying, “my love is conditional upon you changing the way you act.” When your love is conditional on their behavior, they don’t feel love from you, which is the only thing they really need right now.
Remember: Hurt people hurt people. They’re in pain. They need compassion from you. They need love. If you’re judging them, it will make them shut down more. It will close off the love even more. So, what if you stop trying to correct them and you just accept the way they are? They’re entitled to their own opinion. You don’t need to agree.
And you also don’t need to judge. In their eyes, they're correct! So if you just accepted what they said as they’re opinion and didn’t try to change it, you didn’t show them judgment. You showed them acceptance. And guess what’s gonna happen? They’re gonna lower their guard (eventually). So YOU choosing to not judge can be the catalyst to the relationships getting better.
People’s lives are either examples or warnings. A lot of what my family does is a WARNING for what I don’t want in my own life. Just like we talked about, biography is not destiny. When you judge, correct, and have anger, you’re actually doing the EXACT same thing they’re doing.
You’re choosing to make your biography your destiny. When in reality, that doesn’t need to be the case. So when you’re around your family over Thanksgiving or Christmas, notice the feedback of what you love and don’t love about it. Apply that to your own life. Again, don’t try to change them. Change YOU.
I made a decision that I would take the horrible example of money, judgment, fear, stress, anxiety, anger and blame and used it to change the way that I treat my wife and change the way that I will treat our future kids.
So what if you become grateful for the painful experiences you have with your family? What if you take the high road and actually be grateful that your family chooses negativity? What if this contrast is actually leading you to a better life?
Think about what all of this could be creating within you.
You wish your family wasn't negative. But if your family wasn’t negative, would you be listening to a podcast right now on how to be happy? Probably not! If your family didn’t judge you, would you be as accepting of other people in your life? Probably not!
If your family didn’t have a horrible relationship with money, would you be striving to create your own business or career? Probably not!
If you didn’t feel inadequate as a kid and still see those patterns repeating over the holidays, would you have found personal growth? Probably not!
What if these holidays, these negative memories were the greatest gift you ever received? Because they created YOU.
They were crafting you, molding you, sculpting you into the person you are today. They were never wrong.
As long as you see these experiences as "wrong," you’re not choosing a more empowering meaning. When you look at it a different way, and you’re super grateful for all this beautiful CONTRAST, all of a sudden it’s never too late to have a fantastic childhood. It’s never too late to have an amazing holiday.
Because you start to see all the good coming from it. Pretty powerful meaning, right? This is one of the ways that I’m able to have a great holiday! This is how YOU can too!
Most people go through life in REACTION to what happens around them. Chances are that’s what you’ve done in holidays in the past. You just go in expecting it to suck, so guess what it? It does suck. Because you’re reacting to the people around you and you’re letting your energy be defined by toxic people. I challenge you to take the PROACTIVE approach to life instead.
When I’m about to walk into one of my family member’s homes, I pause for 15-20 seconds. In my mind, I say:
Be proactive. Set your intentions with how you walk into the room and you’ll carry a completely different energy with you.
Like I always talk about, your life is a direct reflection of the expectations of your peer group. That means that who you surround yourself with is who you become. So, LOVE YOUR FAMILY. PICK YOUR PEER GROUP.
That means to show love, compassion, grace and forgiveness for your family, but do NOT change based on their standards.
When you’re surrounded by people playing the "poor, poor me" card, you’re going to notice that your energy will drain. That’s NORMAL.
So over the time with my family, Janiece and I have a little code that we would use to protect our energy. It was as simple as, “I think the dog needs to go out.” So we’d walk the dog and recharge our energy batteries. So even though you’re making the conscious choice to enter a toxic environment with the goal of SHOWING LOVE to your family, you still need to protect your energy.
You don’t need to spend 100% of your time with them. So take time for you and RECHARGE when you need to. Because, as you know very well, these weekends can be draining. And you can’t pour love from an empty love cup. Fill it up by taking time for you.
This is what I personally do to have a fantastic holiday with my family.
Your life and your emotions are YOUR responsibility. None of my points will change your family. But they will change you. And what’s so cool about changing YOU is that when you do, other people are affected by your energy. But it ALWAYS starts with you.
If you’re challenged in taking ownership of your emotions, your life, your beliefs, and most importantly your happiness, I created an online course that breaks you through ALL OF IT.
This course will change the way you view your entire world. It teaches you how to be happy. It’s beautiful. It’s how I’ve taken a disempowering past and made it into something beautiful that changes thousands of lives. It will teach you how to take the pain of your past and turn it into something meaningful, something powerful, and something extraordinary.
You can change your future. And I can actually teach you how.
And because the holidays are about GIVING, I’m gonna give you the program for 30% off its normal cost, with the promo code “THANKFUL” (that counts for both the payment plan AND the full pay option). This promotion will only be valid through Sunday 11/25/18 at 11:59pm EST!
So if you felt something REAL from this – if you felt like this could really impact you – if you feel like this Brad guy is for real, I highly encourage you to join us in Appreciation Academy. It’s LIFE CHANGING. So head to www.appreciationacademy.com right now and use the promo code “THANKFUL” to claim your 30% off discount for the program and all the insane bonuses that are included!
Now go out there and have an AMAZING holiday with your family!
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