4-Steps to Emotional Safety During the Holidays

ChristmasThe holiday season has begun and many of us are feeling more triggered than ever. As we spend more time with those who have often aided our trauma, let’s talk emotional safety. Safety is one of our three basic human needs, along with love and belonging. During the holidays, we can put safety on the back burner in order to receive love and belonging.

Though family contact may be limited during your early stages of recovery, there will come a time where you may re-engage your family dynamic. When reconnecting with your family, it is important to establish emotional safety.

The following 4-Step process offers a practical way to lovingly protect your emotional safety while attending family functions. Family get-togethers can offer up lots of emotions; we see old people, fall into our family roles and are often confronted with limiting belief systems. I’ve been there myself.

Here’s a sequence taken from my own personal “playbook.” Try these on for size:

  1. Set an intention – Setting an intention is a valuable skill. It allows you to bring forward clear intent of a positive outcome. You positively affirm what you intend to experience instead of coming at the situation with limitation and lack. An example of an intention would be, “I intend to be responsible for my own emotional reactions when talking to my mom.” Intentions are powerful, so take some time to come up with one that resonates with your healing process.
  1. We are all human – Remember the person you are talking to is a human being who perhaps hasn’t done any inner work. You on the other hand, have been to therapy, read self-help books and are actively engaging your own recovery process. Not everybody is as invested or committed to personal growth as you may be. Give them the dignity of their own process and stay responsible for own experience.
  1. Feedback is just information – Just because someone tells you something doesn’t mean it’s truth. You are an adult now. You are no longer a victim to your circumstance. You get to decide what’s true for you. Receive the feedback, acknowledge any truth in the feedback and let go of the rest. The trick with feedback is letting go of the part that isn’t useful without judgment, shame or off-putting body language. “Let it go” becomes a mantra on repeat.
  1. Opportunity for growth – Each experience with your family is an opportunity to practice your new skills and build stronger relationships with others. Stay open to the possibility that things could improve in your relationships. When we grow, sometimes those around us grow too. This may seem like wishful thinking, but I’ve seen the miracles take place in recovering families.

Emotional safety can be incredibly empowering as you take control of your own inner experience. We can’t expect others to change but we can change how we interact with others. Choose to show up in possibility and put your best self forward. Keeping our selves emotionally safe is a powerful tool that can assist us with personal boundaries. May love, belonging and safety work in harmony this holiday season!

beverly sartainBeverly Sartain is a certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor and Recovery Life Coach, specializing in Alternative Recovery for clients seeking methods and treatments beyond the traditional 12-step approach. She received her B.S. from the University of Florida in Psychology and an M.A. from the University of Santa Monica in Spiritual Psychology. Beverly enjoys working with people who have an earnest desire to move beyond their issues. She has personal and professional experience with substance abuse, mental health, trauma and domestic violence.


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