I've been thinking about this post for most of the day. I think this is a tough issue. For a lot of people it probably comes up more this time of year because of family responsibilities that happen around the holidays.
During other times, our families may request our presence but it's a rare occassion when we have the obligation to visit that we might have during the winter holiday season. Often we are torn by several family demands and we try and juggle all of them.
While being true to ourselves and finding that inner peace does require that we stand up for our needs and learn to say no sometimes, we need to remember we are not an island. We are connected to others and as we seek to form healthier bonds, we need to realize that bonds of family are hard to break. Certainly in the cases of physical abuse and even particularly severe emotional abuse, we may actually need to break those bonds, but in the case of just disliking our family and being uncomfortable around them, we may need to rethink our pattern.
It's a time to think of the bonds we form with others and why we form them. Do we think of these relationships as expendable or do we think of them as something that will evolve and change as we evolve and change? Is our family really so difficult that we can't be thankful that we have them? If so, can we recognize the problems of our family of origin within ourselves and see how that may have made us the person we are? Can we perhaps bless the challenges we had growing up?
This is a tough time to remain at our best and most peaceful. Demands come at us, not only from family and beloved friends but from co workers, Churches, the community and our inner sense of what works for us this season. We have to stop and think of what works for us but then we have to realize that our decisions have an impact on others. We need to figure out how to make our needs known in ways that can honor the needs of another, and, if needed, allow room for discussion and compromise.
This season brings a lot of expectation (and attachment) to how things should be. When things are not that way people are often disappointed. We can't please everyone. Perhaps we can't even please ourselves with all the conflicting demands. Maybe in letting go of the expectation that anyone (even ourselves) will be pleased we can release some of the stress of this time of year and so when it is finally over, we can get back to our real lives a bit faster and with greater peace.