How To Flourish with Family this Holiday Season
Life isn’t easy, but The Cosmos is here for you. We’re creating How To Guides for Asian women, by Asian women to unpack and tackle the real shit we go through. Because we deserve to flourish and thrive together.
1. Make peace with your expectations. While most of us are not coming home to a picture-perfect Hallmark movie scene, it’s likely that we’re holding onto some unrealistic expectations.
Dr. Crane shares why this can backfire: When we build up our expectations to unreasonable levels (like those Hallmark visions), we set ourselves up to be disappointed. Don’t compare your family dynamics, personalities, or traditions to anyone else’s. Comparing can all too often lead to finding your own family lacking or disappointing. Remember, nobody’s family is perfect, no matter how they look on social media.
Before making holiday plans:
Pull out your journal (we recommend Asian-woman created Passion Planner!)
Set a timer for 15 minutes
Jot down any past holiday memories that come to mind.
Circle the memories that involved conflict or tension with family.
Notice if this exercise brought up any feelings. Think about what expectations you had in those moments of conflict. Recognize that you have the power to make this holiday season work for you. Scratch out any expectations that no longer serve you!
2. Decide if you want to make the trip home. But let's be real... the anxiety of Mom, Dad, and extended family guilt-tripping you can be enough to throw your own needs out the window.
Take a deep breath and write down 3 points that express your needs and practice saying them aloud to a friend. When it comes time to share your decision with family, speak from an honest and vulnerable place to help them understand where you’re coming from.
When you share what you're going through, you give your loved ones a chance to show up for you. And yes, putting yourself first is going to feel weird at first. But that’s exactly why we all need to do it more often.
3. Show love your way. Do you know what your love language is? If not, take the 5 Love Languages quiz to understand how YOU like to show love. Buying gifts or giving a red envelope might not feel right to you, and that’s okay. Once you know how you like to give (helping mom peel ginger or going to the market with grandma counts!), expressing love and appreciation for our family members can feel like something to look forward to.
4. Draw those boundaries! Eating every meal with family. Greeting grandparents. Shopping with cousins. Running to the post office. Buying the ingredient your brother or sister forgot. The holidays sure have a way of draining our positive energy (and ca$h money)!
Here's Dr. Crane guidance: Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries! This is tough in Asian families where parents and elders might expect you to be available on demand. Consider where you can draw boundaries, especially with regard to answering intrusive questions or reacting to upsetting comments. If you feel overwhelmed, take a bathroom break to breathe and remember that the visit is temporary.
5. Text your sister (or brother!). The holidays have a way of bringing old wounds to the surface. Family members might say or do something that triggers… and next thing you know, you're in tears, a heated argument, or snapping at someone you love. Your eight year old self is still inside along with all the hurtful things you may not have processed.
Find a quiet space and recite these 3 mantras:
I am not alone.
I deserve to ask for support.
I am not a burden.
Before you head home for the holidays, find a brother/sister you trust and ask him/her if you can reach out in case anything comes up. If you're at home, come up with a system of signaling to a family member you're close to when you need support or at least a hand squeeze. We love this reality check by Dr. Crane: Family drives us craziest fastest, so we always need someone on the outside to remind us of who we are.
P.S. You can always email us at email@example.com if you need extra shoulders to lean on!