Surviving a family get-together may seem insurmountable, especially when considering the complex history that goes along with relationships, marriages, divorces, births, and other family happenstance. Making any family gathering a positive experience takes mental discipline and effort in managing our emotions until they can run smoothly on automatic. Here’s how to walk away feeling positive from holidays, weddings, and Sunday dinners:

Know your flash points

Before you agree to host, or be a guest, know the three biggest flash points that can set off an unexpected tirade of old emotional baggage and unpleasant memories. Entertaining, and being the host, is the number one stressor that can set off unpleasant family issues. Compounded with already full schedules, we feel obligated to be perfect hosts for our families who might not even appreciate our efforts. Your home is your energy sphere. When you believe your hospitality is a demonstration of who you are, you have nothing to prove or hide. Release anxiety and worry about inviting critical family members over by knowing your presence, and contribution, are gifts to those around you.

Unrealistic expectations are another common flash point. When we carry outdated mental and emotional baggage from the past, life events, circumstances, and old relationships from long ago, we also bring a set of expectations along for the ride. Sometimes, no matter what family members do, they may always seem ungrateful. Stay centered! Even though you may not receive thanks from anyone, you are stronger for being generous. Give with a happy heart and focus on releasing resentment from the past. Your true thanks are manifested in other ways not readily seen. Nobody liked your gift? Thank yourself for being the amazing person you are…and cross that grump of your list for next year!

Being the maverick of the family, or the one who has always walked off the beaten path, can make you overly sensitive at family get-togethers. When we choose a different life than our parents, are not liked by other established family members, or are the new kid on the block that doesn’t fit the mold, we feel ostracized and go through the motions, often with a bad attitude. Remember, others perceive you the way you perceive yourself. Love your unique space and stop making apologies. Be kind to everyone. Know you fit beautifully in this world and are valuable to everyone on the planet – including your family! When you believe you fit perfectly into a space that has been designed exclusively for you, you’ll no longer accept any stigma or negative labels others may place upon you.

Check your state of mind

Each day we have an opportunity to choose our attitude and focus our intentions on the present moment. Because of this choice, our own personal lives, and all we observe in the world, originate within the mind. Living without stress first originates within the mind! As within, so without. As above, so below. It’s easy. Begin by being consciously aware of what you want to create, even if grouchy Grandpa seems to set the tone for the gathering or Cousin Martha comes for dinner… and complains about everything!

Focus on today

Our families provide some of the most challenging circumstances we will ever experience. Since family dynamics make us intimate with a situation, it is difficult to separate the past from the present. Find joy in what others bring to the table, even if Aunt Edna doesn’t like the menu. Take a deep breath, stay centered, and keep moving forward!

See the big picture often

Use affirmations to get your positive thinking on course. Affirm: “In the universal perspective, today is but a blink in time. Therefore, I move gracefully through these moments with ease. I offer others my heart without depleting my energy reserves.” Other people’s unhappiness is not all about you!

When in doubt, tune out

For difficult in-laws, I have found these two affirmations to be particularly helpful:

“From this day forward, I focus on what is important and not what others expect me to do. I am capable of using my tune-out button when a negative situation arises. I am centered, whole, and happy, and I celebrate life well!”

“From this day forward, I choose to never compromise my beautiful soul for the sake of fitting into a program. I ask for divine assistance in bringing my light in positive ways to this family. I am a whole and complete individual and am comfortable in my uniqueness. I love myself and lovingly express who I am, knowing my presence is a gift to everyone in this family.”

Check your old family baggage at the door, stay in the present moment, and never compromise yourself. Positive thinking means “being centered” in who you are! And ride the bumps with good humor. Use your time well, rely upon your Source, and have patience!

© The Goddess Network, Inc. and Charlene M. Proctor, Ph.D. 2007. All Rights Reserved. See for more empowering thoughts on life-balance! Register for The E-Show, a series of enlightening lectures!

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Charlene M. Proctor is the founder of The Goddess Network, Inc. an on-line educational resource for topics on spirituality, relationships, and women's studies. Author of Let Your Goddess Grow! she is a researcher and educator in the field of women's empowerment and develops self-empowerment strategies for women in all walks of life. She is a subject matter expert for, the world's largest self-help and personal growth website. Her affirmations from The Women's Book of Empowerment reach 2.7 million web visitors daily. She currently facilitates the PATH to Empowerment program for Lighthouse Path in Michigan, a residential women's shelter for homeless mothers, teaching them how to cope with life and increase self-esteem and confidence. To learn more, visit

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