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The Holidays Survival Cheat Sheet

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

So, I have to preface this all by saying, the best way to heal, regulate your nervous system, and reduce your anxiety and stress, is to go no contact with the narcissists in your life.

That's the secret.

They are literally a toxin that your body injests every time you're near them and you then need to detox after interacting with them. Which can be a bit tricky if you still live under the same roof as them.

I'm sure you've noticed when they go away on work trips, vacations or are absent from the home for any prolonged period, you literally and figuratively exhale. Your whole body relaxes. That's not a coincidence. ✨

And this is because they quite literally dysregulate your nervous system (and also your children's.)🦠

But, for many, you're still stuck in the same home as a person who is the cause of your anxiety, overwhelm, stress, and general sense of unease and discomfort.

You may even feel that this is your last holiday season as a family. And with that knowledge, comes a sense of relief, but also, how the hell do you survive this season, mentally, emotionally and spiritually intact?🤯

So, if you're still stuck and have to deal with them, here is a little Cheat Sheet if you will. Like everything in life, take what works for you and leave what doesn't. But all of these tips have not only helped my friends and I, but also, all of my clients.

My dream for you, is that you get to start thriving during your next holiday season. But for now, you simply want to survive. Here are my survival tips for you:

  1. Be very clear on your boundaries going into this holiday. Know what you're okay with, and what you're not okay with. Write these down. And then stick to them. Are you okay with your toxic in-laws coming over for the entire time?

  2. Have built in buffers- narcissists typically behave when others are around. So, plan to either be out of the house and interacting with others, or have family and friends come to yours frequently over this time. You don't have to plan lavish events or even attend ones that are, but being around others affords you a certain level of protection from the narcissist's antics. Although, driving with them in and of itself can be very stresfful (they know they have you in a small confined space, and can use this to either badger you and/or drive recklessly.)

  3. Stay Busy- it's a busy time of the year so be prepared to stay busy. If you're at home, and they are too, constantly move around, organizing, sweeping, doing dishes, laundry etc. This means you're less likely to be trapped in a conversation with them. Same goes for dinners. If they start their antics, start to clear the table, get more water, anything that allows you to move, break eye contact with them, while getting distance from their toxicity.

  4. Practice breathing exercises when you start to feel yourself spiraling. Box breathing is amazing to help regulate as is the 4 by 4 breathing technique.

  5. When you start to feel your anxiety building, stop and consciously make a list of what you're grateful for- your mind can't be anxious and grateful at the same time.

  6. If you feel your anxiety really revving up or know that it might, stock up on super sour hard candy, like warheads. It helps to move your body from an anxious state to a present one.

  7. If you've had enough and you feel like you're going to explode, go for a walk/drive and find a secluded spot and release your anger: clench your entire body as hard as you can and scream at the top of your lungs. You are having to suppress your true emotions around this person, but your body can only ignore its own cues for so long before it demands release.

  8. Do not engage in any circular conversations. If your narcissist starts to do so, stay on task. Listen to what they have to say and then remind them of what the conversation was about. Redirect them to the issue at hand. So if you've asked them where the car is, and they start going off tangent, reiterate your question. You can do this a few times and then, simply say "this conversation is neither productive nor is it constructive, so I'm going to extricate myself now." Do all of this while remaining stoic and unemotional. Remember: your emotions are fuel for them. It makes them feel powerful to be able to control a person's emotions. So you getting angry, frustrated or even happy or sad, gives them great pleasure. Cut them off from what they need and want: your time, your energy and your emotions. And then refer to cheat #7 about suppressing your emotions.

  9. Physical Activity will be your life saver during this time. Move your body any way that feels good for you. Preferably out of the house and away from your narcissist.

  10. Practice your Daily DOSE: Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin and Endorphins (google how to quickly and cheaply increase these daily.) They are all your happy hormones and will help ground and relax you.

  11. Stay Away: this relates to keeping busy but really, the easiest way to survive and quite possibly even enjoy this time, is to stay away. Plan activities and events and games nights and outings. I loathe busyness but for this, I say embrace society's need for humans to remain busy at all costs. In this instance, it'll have far more benefits to you and for you, than being trapped alone at home with them.

Please remember to not show them any emotion. Keep calm. Stay collected. Don't rise to their bait. 🧘🏽‍♀️

Remember to take care of yourself when you can.

If you have a parenting plan, don't deviate from it. It's your Bible, your roadmap, for dealing with your ex and their unpredictable changes and demands.

"At this time, I think it's best if we stick to our court ordered agreement to minimize potential discord. I look forward to a time when we are able to resolve issues amicably"- is an easy response to demands of change.

Although you and I both know that time will never come, as you are the only one who is in it, doing all this work, lifting the heavy loads, because of your children, while they're doing what they're doing for themselves and to hurt you. They're always going to fabricate conflict to create chaos to get you to engage.

If you know you're leaving, remind yourself that this is temporary. And you can do hard things: you've been doing hard things for at least as long as you've been with them.

To sweeten the pot, make a detailed list of what your life will look like after them. Be very specific and then refer back to this when you're low, down on your energy, feeling defeated. It'll become your North ⭐️ : it'll be what guides you and redirects you, when you're feeling lost in the chaos that is a narcissist.

You've got this.

And if you don't, excuse youself for a hot minute to help you regain your calm.

With love, always,

Chantal xo

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