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

Secrets To Getting Through The Holiday Season

The holiday season promises fun, love and good times with family and friends. It's a time where we can look forward with glee and high expectations to those shining moments of unconditional love and relaxation.


Is that what your holiday season is like? Do you look forward to it with great anticipation or something that is unspoken and resembles dread?

Ah yes, those not-to-be-talked-about yet oh-so-familiar feelings of 'why do I do this?' and 'what does this season really mean to me?' and finally, the favorite, 'am I really related to those people?'

This is the fodder for some great holiday movies but the fact is, it can be a truly very difficult time for many, many people. The obligation of having to get together with family members strikes terror into many hearts.

How does one get through the holiday season unscathed by the family biting sarcasm, the off-hand negative comments about your love life or lack of employment? How does one get through those unsaid, yet thick feelings of disapproval?

Or, God forbid, what if your family has the same negativity quotient as Glenn Beck?

Scary, huh?

True, but there are solutions that work! Years ago, because of the demand from my audience, I did a teleclass called Seven Secrets to Staying Positive in Negative Situations and I'll share some tidbits from that class.

First and foremost, you need to ask yourself, why am I putting myself through this situation over and over? Can you opt out for one holiday season? Can you give yourself a break from the obligation?

Honestly, wouldn't you rather go to be with your family because you want to...not because you have to? We get so tied up with traditions that we don't actually think them through as to whether or not it's right for us to go. Assembling a family to travel in the dead of winter may be a frolic for some but if you hate driving or flying in the snow, why would you put yourself through it? Or, would it make more sense for your family to come to you instead? Sure, it might not be the norm, but so what?

You might be asking yourself if I'm a 'bah-humbug to the holidays' type of person to which I reply - absolutely not!! However, the light was turned on for me years ago when I was going through a separation from my first husband around Christmas time. It just seemed to hurt more because it was the holiday season to which my counsellor replied, "It's just a day, Karen". Wow! In an instant, my whole life and expectation around the holiday season changed. It is just a day. We're the ones who decide to make a fuss of it and if that works for you - have at it!! But if it doesn't.......?

Now, if you truly want to go but have on-going issues with some family members, try these things:

• If the atmosphere is getting tense - leave. Even if it's for a moment to get some air and refill your sense of positivism and self, do it. Go get some eggnog at the corner store.

• Wayne Dyer said something years ago that has always stuck with me and something I share with my coaching clients all the time, 'We teach people how to treat us'. This may be your opportunity to lay some groundwork and start setting up boundaries about what you will and will not discuss.

Tell your Aunt Shirley that all is well and if she asks again about your love life that you are going to, respectfully, change the subject. Same goes for Uncle Bill, if wants to ask you again about what jobs you're applying for - you can let him know that it's all under control with some great prospects and now isn't the time to get into details.

Seems easy enough, but we have somehow learned not to do this with our family. Set strong and respectful boundaries and you'll start to shift your experience. Try it out!

• This is my favorite! Surround the Glenn Beck in your life with pink light and see what happens. Imagine sending them love and pink light and see how their energy shifts.

You CAN get through the holiday season AND have fun!!! There are more techniques I suggest in my Seven Secrets to Staying Positive in Negative Situations, it's all about learning to employ some different techniques, set some boundaries and ask yourself some different questions.

I give thanks for each and every one of you - make this holiday season the best one yet!!

Karen is the author of "Attraction in Action: Your How to Guide to Relationships, Money, Work and Health" and is a coach that helps people break through their blocks in their personal and business life.