Family discord during the holidays is extremely common. It is a familiar theme we see in movies such as Home for the Holidays, The Family Stone and Four Christmases. However, the holidays may be the best time to start on a new path to “affording” the life you wish to lead.

Frequently, the stress we feel during a family holiday get-together is rooted in unresolved tension and emotions from our past experiences. The “challenging life events” we have all faced in our past can change our behavior and lead us to bad habits that negatively impact our lives and relationships.

As a prescription for happier, healthier holidays this year, there are some specific steps that can be taken before, during, and after the holidays to improve the experience. These steps will help you to move beyond the damages of old wounds and start enjoying the present and working toward the goals you want to “afford”.

Before the family gathers for the holidays:

o Recognize and eradicate the behaviors and thought patterns such as denial, glossing over, and falling off the radar screen that will lead to an unhappy get-together.

o Next, put into practice the behaviors and thinking that will lead to a transformative holiday event: balanced decision making, affordability, maturity, and embracing reality.

o Apologize for past actions—an apology has immense power to re-set relationship dynamics and allows everyone to move forward.

During the Holiday assembly:

o Remove any barriers in your thoughts, language, interactions, and expected results: positive thoughts and intentions will lead to positive outcomes.

o Arm yourself with a sense of humility and humor instead of defensiveness and anger. The two behaviors which we associate with being vulnerable serve as the best shield.

After the holidays:

o Review the changes that took place, how attitudes shifted and the overall improvement of the experience

o Continue the commitment to make each get-together better and better

Using these strategies will set the stage for a harmonious holiday gathering. I write extensively in my book, The Affordability Factor: The 4Cs of Change about dealing with “challenging life events” and re-framing them so that they will no longer negatively affect our lives. By reframing the “challenging life events”, we can not only have harmonious holidays, but we can change our lives for the better.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams knows that anyone can be successful. After losing his mother at a very early age, Dr. Williams and grew up in the New York City foster care system. Today, he is a Doctor of Education, President/CEO and founder of several nonprofit organizations. He is the host of a weekly talk show called, The Navigating Your Life Show with Dr. Nathaniel J. Williams. He is the author of several self-help books encompassing, The Absolutes of Success Series and a he is also a sought after motivational speaker.