03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Surviving The Holidays: 5 Life Coaching Tips

This recent 'tip' was part of a special holiday newsletter I released just before Thanksgiving from It was well received and it actually came up in a conversation I had over the last few days and it helped defuse the situation and keep the holiday on an even keel.

Well the holidays are just beginning so I thought I'd share it with all of you here at Huffington Post too. It's short, intentionally, as it was meant to be simple enough that people could keep the ideas in their heads even when things 'got hot'. If you have any ideas that help you survive the holidays please feel free to add them at the bottom of the list.

The spirit of this isn't intended to say that 'family sucks' or any other negative idea. It's realistic and from personal experience: I'm from a family of 14 siblings, live in close proximity to all of my in-laws and have a large extended family. No matter how 'zen' you are in everyday life there's bound to be someone or something about the holidays that gets to you when you've been traveling, sleeping in strange surroundings, away from the comfort of your own home or hosting a group of people who suddenly have to share 1.5 bathrooms, etc.

The intention here is to help you have a calm, accepting and peaceful holiday season. That's my wish for all of us. Enjoy.

Life Coaching 101: 5 Ways to Survive The Holidays

Here's a bit of 'no kidding' life coaching about the holidays. YOUR FAMILY WILL PUSH YOUR BUTTONS. Is this true for you? No sooner does that one sibling, aunt or family friend walk into the room than they say something that sets your hair on end. I'm talking about the thing that can spoil otherwise joyful holidays, that one thing that is the source of the old saying 'familiarity breeds contempt'.

So how do you deal with the 'stuff' you experience when you're around family members that bug you or set off your 'negative auto response'? I'll make this coaching easy to remember and you can bring it with you when you go off to visit.

  1. Forget the past. For most people, as soon as their uncle or aunt says that one stupid thing or their sibling makes that off color or racist remark that 'you just KNEW was coming' we pull every stupid thing, every bad experience we've ever had of this person into the present moment. Try this time to pretend that you are meeting this person as a stranger and see how much more patience you have for them.
  2. Pause. Really, mastery in so many things comes from taking the time to be conscious; taking the time to consider the choice before making it. Get that last part: it is a 'choice' you make, even if it is so automatic that you've lost the element where choice is obvious. If you choose to stop and not jump into your 'knee jerk' reaction to these relatives or family friends who just 'set you off' you can have a moment to respond instead of react. I'm not the first one to encourage people to 'count to 10' at the moment of 'pain', and it can be a really effective tool.
  3. Avoid Alcohol. Yes, alcohol can be a way to 'numb' yourself and even, at some point, find these terrible relations a bit funny, but as I've heard from several friends, "There is no bad situation that alcohol can't make worse".
  4. Avoid the urge. If you find it very difficult to avoid this problem relative try volunteering to help in the kitchen or take the younger kids on a walk or tend the fireplace. Find something you'll enjoy to do with this special consideration; don't be driven so far away that this 'jerk' takes your holiday from you. Volunteering and getting involved is something you can do for you, to heighten your enjoyment, so keep it in context, ok?
  5. Grow up. Remember, it is your life, your personal development and it is not ok to go 'away from'. You'll find this in the 'Game of Life' core course on where we help you decide if you're 'going from' or 'going towards'. You first have to be able to let go of the 'you' you once were for others to realize the 'you' you've become. Let yourself grow up and grow towards what you love and are passionate about and don't get caught up in resentment of your parents, siblings, relatives, 'humble' beginnings or any other part of your past that you may regret or blame for the way your life turned out. Take responsibility and love the life you have. THAT is the way to enjoy not only the holidays, but your life in general, to the fullest.

Good luck to you all and happy holidays.