As we head into the holiday season – no matter what your tradition – it is a time of celebration and, for some, challenge.  Sandra Jones has submitted this wonderful and personal blog with great tips on navigating through some of the challenges.  Thanks Sandra!


What do you do if you find yourself dreading getting together with certain relatives over the holidays?  Some make an appointment with their psychologist; some choose to avoid those relatives all together.  I discovered a powerful third alternative, step into my creator mode, take charge!

Families, even the healthiest ones sometimes have dysfunctional patterns that have been there so long we don’t even notice them. When a cup of holiday cheer loosens tongues, those patterns can surface quickly.  So how do we avoid annual un-pleasantries?

  1. Prepare
  2. Participate
  3. Choose Choice

Prepare:  When we know we are going to be with people that naturally seem to “push our buttons,” it is good to prepare.  No matter how much personal work I had done, for years it seemed that when I was with my stepmother there would be friction.  I would say the wrong thing and she seemed to bite
back, confident that I had intended an insult.  I felt like a victim until I realized I could create new choices for myself.

Spending quality time with my father was important, and when I visited them in southern Utah, my stepmother was always present so I had to have some fresh strategies for peaceful co-existence.  One of the most rewarding approaches I took was to view us both with compassion.  Somehow both of us felt a little inadequate in each other’s presence.  When I realized this, it helped me see her “with soft eyes” versus the “hard eyes” of judgment.  That began to shift everything.  It also helped me take my attention off her and let her be!

Participate:  A second “aha” came when I realized in the kitchen where I was naturally inclined to be helpful I was intruding on her territory, a place where her rules reigned.  Once I accepted that and followed her rules, a huge amount of tension dissipated.  I also decided that I would act like I was welcomed and belonged in her home as a guest. That allowed me to relax and drop the expectation that a “zap” was on the way.  I chose to discuss topics where I had something to offer and let her shine when it came to politics and current events. (She still shines in those areas at 85!)

Remember, when you expect to have a good visit and prepare for it mentally and emotionally, you are setting things in motion for a positive outcome.

CHOOSE CHOICE as your gift to yourself this holiday season

Our brains and social conditioning have us wired to react to triggers that place us in power struggles and drama dynamics. These struggles are represented by the Dreaded Drama Triangle. If the Victim/ Persecutor / Rescuer patterns were evident before, they are sure to surface at the holidays. Rather than react to triggers, I invite you to Choose Choice. You can do this by taking a quick moment out to reflect on what it is you do want (a happy and stress-free family gathering) as opposed to what you don’t want (power struggles with your stepmother in the kitchen). David Emerald’s Creator Triangle (known as TED* – The Empowerment Dynamic) allows you to take a quick time-out and consciously shift from reaction to choice…or from Victim to Creator. Isn’t this what we all really want this holiday season?!!

Sandra Jones guides those who want to make a difference to use their “divine discontent” as a catalyst for their personal calm, order, resilience and energy.  Connect with her at:


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