Globally renowned Reiki Master, EFT practitioner, and founder of Pause in Joy, Patti Penn joined us for a discussion about how we can set ourselves up for success this holiday season. Featured in the documentary and book Heal, Patti is the person your subconscious needs when you’re ready to let go and discover your healing journey with personal empowerment. From mastering our emotions to releasing toxicity, she gives us all the truths and mindfulness exercises we need to hear in preparation to relieve holiday stress when visiting family!
4 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress with Patti Penn
It’s important to remember you can’t force a molded personality onto someone else, so when it comes to forgiving family members, you can’t rush the timing as everyone comes to a conclusion at their own pace. Forgiveness is all about forgiving ourselves about wanting to be different than who we currently are, and thus the acceptance for seeing that person for who they are. If tackling the big topic of forgiveness head on is difficult, look at other aspects of forgiveness where you can ease yourself into it and find different degrees that can help you discover the real depth of it all. As Patti says, “There’s the things that happen to us, but it’s what you do with the things that happen to you, then you do it again with the opportunities that come from it.”
Set intentions going in
Before you even head home, create a list of purposeful intentions to clear your mindset of any preemptive stress. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information at your disposal, but get online to search energy work, spirituality, and anything else that falls under that umbrella; you can quickly get books on Amazon on the subject matter. Patti recommends starting slow with one book or podcast to listen to while you travel. Pick what works for you as everybody resonates with their own resource and voice. Do breath work and set intentions such as “Maybe this is going to be a holiday that’s going to be really healing for the family. I’m going to learn something about my family that I hadn’t anticipated. I’m going to see them in a way that hasn’t shown up before.” This thought process will begin to open up our awareness for others and as our own individuals, acknowledging any blind spots we have head on. Setting these objectives to be more connected with ourselves — and subsequently others — will give us a kind of protection from problematic characters and situations. Maybe it’s through your meditative practices or going for a walk, but you just have to find what works for you. “There’s many things you can do and we’re talking to all the different scenarios that are coming up because everybody has different experiences and family dynamics,” Patti states.
Know the time and place for celebrations vs. comfort
Going home and visiting family can certainly be a time of celebration, but it’s good to keep in mind that not everyone is investing in your personal victories at the dinner table. Keep note that it’s a gathering for everybody, not just you. Stresses can be high in your family’s lives, from parents to cousins, so not everybody has to be your cheerleader at this particular moment. Patti points out that we often set ourselves up for factitiously believing family members won’t want to hear what we have to say because of what they have going on in their own lives. Making assumptions like this is judging on preconceived notions that people aren’t going to like you, what you’re doing, and maybe a potential partner. This is certainly not always the case. And when people do talk about their stressors, don’t say comments or ask questions in a tone that makes the person feel like they’re not doing something or taking care of themselves in a way that you would do. Most of the time, they’re not asking for unsolicited advice, they just need an active listener for what they have to say. There’s no sweeping rule that everybody must go around the table to share their views, so upon arrival, you have to read and gauge the emotional temperature of the room to deduce if now’s the time to share your great news. It could be more fun to save the celebratory wins for going out with friends, but don’t knock the possibility of sharing with your family until seeing the environment for yourself.
Engaging in conversation
Sometimes, family members just generally want to get to know us more and ask questions about how we’re doing. It’s perfectly OK to know your boundaries when it comes to socializing with certain people and saying “No, not today” when protecting yourself from a conversation, which is especially crucial for those who have a history of abuse with a family member. Feel power in connecting to yourself and your decision, whether it’s leaving the room to take a minute, excusing yourself, or even asking the person to play nice at the beginning. There’s a process of letting it go, it can’t be forced, and as more people understand the power of no as we gradually move into the present, it can turn into everybody at the table’s no. But on the flip side, it’s also OK to know when it’s a good time to let people in and ask you questions. From childhood experiences and growing up in their families, a lot of people believe they still have to be keeping score when they enter gatherings, but you don’t need to bring that scorecard with you. While refusal to share details is allowed, Patti points out “If we don’t share, we’re hoarding and withholding, or we’re feeling some kind of shame.” Family members are great for spotting a change in you, for better or worse, so Patti says it’s a good way to engage in dialogue, asking them how they perceive how something has changed you and what it looks like. It helps to evaluate your own growth because we can’t always see the change in us, even if there are many versions of us that go home for the holidays. They’re gaging what is going on in your life and you can do the same to them, starting with a lead in on asking how people are doing. People talk a lot, but it’s particularly important to practice our listening skills and at least show interest in something you may be interested in.