I avoid the holidays like the plague. And, yes, I mean literally. I’ve been doing so, successfully I might add, for the past several years. I haven’t ‘done’ Christmas or Thanksgiving with my family for quite some time. It's not that I dislike my family, or Jesus for that matter, but I don't like or connect with everything that comes with the holidays. I do my best to refrain from the obligation, the rampant consumerism, ambiguous tradition, heavy foods, heavy drinking, etc. Alright, ok... I may dip my toe in the last one. Sometimes my shadow self likes to show up with two bottles of rosé to make it all ok.


I am well aware that this confession may break the hearts of the people who think I have my shit together because I’m a ‘Spiritual Healer’, but I fall short just like any student of life. I may know better, but I don’t always do better. I can slip easily back into my ego just like a comfy, worn-out pair of sweats. It’s not particularly a good look, but a look we go back to when we can’t muster the inspiration it takes to show up fully.


Time with family can be rough. Really rough. Ram Dass wisely challenged: “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”  Let’s be honest, it’s not their fault that we let their behavior bring out our inner teenager. But why is it so hard? How can they set us off so easily, sending us back into a time machine, erasing all the work we’ve so diligently committed to doing on ourselves over the entire span of our adult life with one swift move?


Those closest to us reflect back to us our biggest lessons; the most detailed reflection of all of our belief systems, all of our pain points, and somewhere in there, our pathway back to wholeness.


We go home, sit around the kitchen table, and innocently they inquire, “How’s work?”  “Good,” we answer. But our pain body wants to cry out, “Well, I’ve somehow managed to overcome the life-long obstacle course you created for me with your deep issues with self-worth. It’s taken a lot of work, I’m still trying to forgive you and it would be great if you could finally become accountable for that.” Instead we politely and quietly say, “Yep, work is going really well actually, thanks.”


Family is hard because we inadvertently hold them hostage so that we can remind ourselves that we’ve grown, that we’re different, that we’re lovable for who we are, and that we’ve figured it out. It’s kinda like the less-than-enlightened self saying, “Hey, hey, careful! Don’t get your old ways of being near me, because I’m not standing strongly enough yet, I might get knocked over!”


I'm still trying to find the balance of being able to stand in the life I've created for myself without needing to judge others for reflecting where I used to be. Subconsciously, I’m thinking it grounds me in my growth, but more deeply I know it only tethers me to my pain. The last time my mom visited we got in a fight because I was annoyed at her for (what I deemed) as her incessant habit of complaining. Yep, that’s right, I let her pain activate my pain, and of course it was her fault! Duh. I had to later laugh (and apologize) for blaming her for my temporary forgetfulness... but whoa that blame trap is mesmerizing!


So what do we do? How do we just love?  Here are my go-to’s when my ego has me hog-tied:


  • Soul Perspective. See the other person - your mother, your brother, your weird uncle - as a soul. Can you see that they’re just dressed up in an eccentric costume, committed to the role, but really they’re there to tell a part of your story? What’s their role in your story of enlightenment? They have a message from God, what is it?


  • The MYOB Mantra. The highly spiritual and personal favorite, “It’s none of my business.” It’s none of my business if they’re lying. It’s none of my business that their favorite love language is guilt. It’s none of my business if they have their shit glasses on today, and maybe every day. It’s ok cause it’s just none-of-my-business. You may be amazed at the healing available through this one.


  • Self-Accountability Check. Ask yourself: What am I needing them to do differently so that I can feel _____? (Respected, loved, seen, heard are just a few examples.) How can I unplug from the need and remember that all feelings, emotions, and states of being are available in this moment? By activating these things on my own I’ll feel a hell of a lot better, not to mention heal the merry-go-round of victimhood - cause we all know we're too old to hop on that ride again this year.


  • Alchemy Through The Shadow Self. Too often we stuff our fear and shadow self down into the depths of our bellies to avoid feeling old pain. But what happens when you let your shadow-self talk? In truth, it’s only there to help you move into your expansion. Take a moment when the ego wants to have a little rumble, sit quietly and ask, “What truth are you here to remind me of?” “How can I help you feel more safe right now?” In this practice we’re learning to nurture ourselves and heal the cycle of ‘us and them.’ Thank your shadow self for coming, but let it know that you’ve got a new way of dealing with this now.


  • Forfeit The Pain Game (AKA Compassion). Don’t let their pain activate yours. Surrender the game cause ain’t no one coming out of this one alive and well. All healing truly lies within the present moment. What if you could move mountains of change with a simple, sobering activation of compassion? Let their pain be theirs, and let it lead you into your freedom. 


If I’m being honest, it’s more than the sense of obligation and nostalgic heavy food that puts me off, it’s that I slump into a less than flattering look, and I don’t like what I see. I’m mad that my self discipline failed, I’m mad that I can’t practice self-love when I’m faced with what people want me to be for them. I’m mad that they made me believe I was less-than only because they forgot themselves. I’m mad that I can’t practice compassion like I teach. And albeit an unfair goal, I’m mad that I can’t be like Jesus was: Able to stand in love fully enough to not need them to be different.


When all this shit comes up, I know I’m really resenting myself. My next step towards enlightenment isn’t in forgiving them, but forgiving myself for not being 'there' yet.  So the Spiritual Healer goes back to the simplicity of the things she preaches, until she (hopefully) gets it and moves on to the next lesson. I know all this because I’m still working through it and will continue to work through it, because I know at my core that’s exactly what we’re here to do. And if I were that ‘spiritual’ I wouldn’t be here still learning.


In all their difficulty, and precisely because of it, the holidays may hold some of the deepest spiritual lessons and potential pathways to personal freedom right before the New Year when we become born, yet again, into a new skin…. or newish. ;) Even if we don’t ‘complete’ the lesson at hand, we’re still growing and still learning, so let’s be easy on ourselves (and our family members). Life is just one big-ass infinite journey to love. And, I know deeply, without a doubt, that there are no small acts of love. So, may we go gently and lovingly dear ones, towards our truth and the remembrance that at the bottom of this all, we are love to our very core, and ain’t nobody rockin' that.

Ready to finally move past family patterns?