Dealing with Family during the Holidays
First off, I just want to say this very important thing, if you take nothing else away from this article, let it be this- People’s reactions to you are based on their relationship with themselves, not you. Always.
Someone who is living at peace with themselves will have no need to harshly criticize, no desire to humiliate, and no feelings of unresolved jealousy. Sadly, once you understand this, you also realize how many people in your life are unhappy with themselves on some level. It makes it a little easier not to take things personally, but I would be lying if I said those things don’t hurt anymore.
So how do you deal with friends and family members who are not living at peace with themselves? What practical steps can you take to be at peace with yourself so that you are able to reject those statements and hurtful judgments instead of internalizing them?
Here’s the bottom line- You will always have people in your life who do not wish you well, who want to see you fail. If you do not learn to look past them and stay focused on you and your progress, and live at peace with yourself- you will experience re-gain. I love the words from Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
1) Start with yourself- You need to be at peace with yourself. Who you are, what you weigh, your progress level, etc. Easier said than done, I know. But working towards that will allow you to bypass other’s opinions of you because you know who you are and where you’re going. A simple way to begin embracing yourself is positive self-talk. Start by looking into the mirror as often as you can, and saying things to yourself like, “I am a beautiful, peacefully person and I love me.” Say hello to yourself. “Hi Ash, you are a wonderful, beautiful person and I am SO proud of you.” It’s going to feel super painful and may trigger some emotions. Process those as they come, don’t shy away from the feelings that embracing yourself brings. If you need to cry, do so. If you smile, embrace it. Enjoy yourself. Changing that negative narrative in your head that so many of us carry around, is step one.
2) Be honest- When someone says something that’s offensive, it usually comes from one of 2 places: a poor relationship with themselves, or a lack of education. Use your best judgment to determine which it is. Keep in mind, there are a LOT of myths and misinformation surrounding bariatric surgery. Don’t assume people know more than they do. Think back to before you became an expert on Bariatric Surgery. How many questions you had, how many myths you thought were accurate. Seek to educate. But be honest, if someone makes a hurtful comment, let them know. Keep it simple, “Hey, that was uncalled for.” or “Please don’t say things like that to me.” Try to stay calm and in control.
3) Take a break- If you need a break, take one! Go for a walk, get out of the house, go listen to music alone. Don’t feel bad for needing a break. Family time can be stressful, don’t allow others to jeopardize your progress. When you’re stressed and anxious, you’re more prone to overeating which puts you back on that harmful cycle you’re working so hard to stay off of. Give yourself permission to stay home sometimes too, you don’t need to be at every single family gathering. It’s okay to opt out. People may get offended, they may try to make you feel guilty, but remember- it’s not about you. It’s all about how they feel about themselves. Those who are at peace with themselves will support you and do their best to understand where you’re coming from.
4) Stay focused- This is a tough one. Holidays pull our focus in so many directions, it’s easy for us to lose focus on our goals. Be proactive about making plans for yourself for food and exercising during the holidays. Being ahead of the game and staying on top of your plans will make you feel peaceful and accomplished. When you feel this way, your confidence is harder to shake and you will feel more secure. When you’re focused on a goal, it consumes your focus and the other things that pop up to derail you just fade into the background. Stick to your routine, take your supplements, and stay on track. You can do this!
5) Stay connected- Join a support group in-person or online, find an accountability buddy, hire a coach, or grab a friend who will keep you focused without judgment. Someone you can call, text or write to keep them updated so they can provide you with the encouragement you may not be getting from others this season. Having connection fills an emotional need that many try to fill with food. If you’re getting that need met, you won’t be as tempted to eat for comfort. Connection is something we all need, so make it a priority to have someone in your corner this holiday season.
Remember, at the end of the day- this season is temporary. All the food, all the family, all the hustle and bustle. The things that can make or break this season. It’s all temporary. You are what you carry into the New Year. Your health journey is what lasts. Keep your sights on the long term. You can do this, I believe in you!