How To Friend Your Family

Raise your hand if you’ve already read something somewhere about how difficult it is to be with family over the holidays?

Or maybe talk of how stressful this time of year is because we have to cook, clean, get out the kids table, and no matter what there’s always one family member that shows up late, provokes others with their views, and ends up leaving in a huff.

And while the above may be true what if this year we decided for it to be different? What if right now before it all begins we said to ourselves – this year, I want to friend my family.

But there’s so much that annoys me, you might be saying. I can’t stand to have small talk with people I rarely see; I don’t understand why everyone is so interested in what’s going on in my life; the commentary on this and that is overwhelming; and I’m sick of listening to people’s views that I don’t agree with.

Friending our families doesn’t deny the above thoughts and feelings instead what it does do is shift our attention away from the aggression, frustration, confusion and judgment to focus on who our families really are and who we want to be to/for them.

How then do we friend our families?

We let everyone be as they are and find ways to appreciate that. By doing this, we become a friend – someone who cares.

In Practice:

Before Everyone Is Together

1) Identify who will potentially set your heart racing and your eyes rolling. You’ve gone through this so many times that by now you have the stories of every year so and so does x or I leave feeling y because ….

2) Once you’ve identified the person who normally gets you going close your eyes and picture them. Let all the feelings they provoke be as they are. Now imagine them as a child, young, innocent, pure. Say to them, I wish you joy; I wish you peace; I wish you love. Now imagine them as a friend and say to them; I love you; I’m here for you; I care for you.

During Family Time

If you notice yourself getting agitated simply pause – connect back to the feeling of care for this person. Say to yourself, I wish them goodness; love; joy. And in that moment where you have space to think – choose your response.

After Family Time

Laugh at how much there is to love about your family. Smile at how wonderful each individual is in their perception of the world.

Depending on your relationship with your family the above may be easy or difficult to do. But even if the practice can’t happen – think about what you could do to friend your family this year. Or who you want to be to your family this year. It’s up to you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and what other ways you’ve learned to friend your family.

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