Season’s Meetings: Shields Up!

A Christmas wreath and lights surrounding the words "Season's Meeting's".

It’s a good old-fashioned Christmas meet-up with family, friends and acquaintances.

So who’s here? There’s your aunt who tries to emotionally manipulate you. There’s that old family friend who always makes inappropriate remarks about your body. Over there’s your cousin who never fails to give you “helpful” diet tips. She’s talking to your mother who’s giving you “that look”.

And there’s you – mindlessly eating mince pies in an attempt to deal with the stress and misery.

If you come away from holiday gatherings feeling hurt and diminished, instead of loved and cherished, it can feel like you’re having yourself a Scary (rather than a Merry) Little Christmas.

I have a few ideas I hope might help you navigate difficult Christmas gatherings (follow the links in each heading for more info):

Acknowledge your vulnerability
All of us – yes, all of us – have a part within us that is vulnerable. Sometimes that vulnerable part needs reassurance and to be told everything’s going to be OK. The best person to offer that reassurance is you, so be gentle with yourself.

Know who you are
Before entering any situation in which you feel vulnerable, remind yourself who you are and what you’re capable of. For example, “I’m a strong, independent, grounded individual and I can handle this experience”.

Remember your boundaries
When the Starship Enterprise is facing attack (interesting analogy, let’s go with it, shall we?) Captain Kirk doesn’t give the order to roll over and surrender. Instead, he issues the command “Shields up!” to protect the ship and everyone in it. Imagine you have your own protective shield – you can still interact with others but no one can get close enough to hurt you.

Observe, rather than react
When we’re attacked by others we tend to react because we’re driven by emotion. Take a breath. Observe what’s going on in you. Try to acknowledge what you’re feeling. Then observe what might be going on with the other person. For example, was their critical remark about you, or really about them?

Lower your shields when appropriate
It’s not great to keep our distance from everyone because human beings need connection and relationship. Gravitate towards the people you feel good around – they’re the ones worthy of your time and energy. Recognise who you’ll allow close to you and appreciate the value they add to your life.

Have an escape plan
If you can’t avoid challenging people altogether, can you limit your interaction with them? Your time belongs to you so decide how much of it you’re willing to give to others. Put in a time boundary before you arrive and stick to it.

People may try to diminish you, but you don’t have to feel diminished. You know who you are, so show them. Be assertive, not aggressive. You can still be warm and friendly while not taking any shit.

You deserve to leave any Christmas meet-up with your sense of self intact.

So shields up, people. Good luck.

And remember, boundaries are for life, not just for Christmas.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2019.

33 thoughts on “Season’s Meetings: Shields Up!

  1. Genius post, Julie. ‘Shields Up’ is such a great motto as it implies protection when required but, of course, shields can then be lowered when appropriate – it’s not a permanent state of affairs, just a necessary tactic. You’re going to get us all through this lovely but difficult season, Captain Julie! Lxxx

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    1. Christmas is such a lovely time for many of us, but it can be challenging for lots of people. It’s handy to know you can protect yourself if necessary. Make it so, Number One! (and other Star Trek quotes). Thanks, Lol, great to hear your thoughts.

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  2. Great tips for what can be quite a challenging time for many people navigating tricky situations and sometimes even trickier people! I was thinking what a great expression this is – shields up – and had no idea it was from Star Trek! xx

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    1. Ah, I’m betraying my nerdy past, Caz! Star Trek it is. I think it’s quite a useful thing to say to yourself before entering any challenging situation. Thanks for your sharing your thoughts.

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  3. I love this! And I can remember it easily since I am a Star Trek fan! At holiday gatherings, if I were uncomfortable I used to think to myself, “Beam me up Scotty.” But it is much more practical to handle the situation using self knowledge and confidence and the “Shields up” approach. Thank you for this post! Happy Holidays!

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    1. If only we could be beamed up when we wanted to! So nice to hear from you, Merri, hope you’re doing OK. Very glad to hear you’re a Star Trek fan and can relate to the “Shields up!” approach.

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  4. Lol….the escape plan! I’ve had one for years with J’s family. Thank you Julie for another informative post!😀

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      1. I grew up obsessed with the original one (though was more of a Spock/Nimoy fan than Shatner…) but LOVE how well the new ones are done. Chris Pine is a dream 😊

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      2. I agree – really love the new films with Chris Pine, Simon Pegg etc. but also loved the original series, as well as Next Generation (big fan of Captain Picard). Nice we have a love of Star Trek in common, Karen – live long and prosper!

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  5. Good post for all year long, not just during Christmas. Especially your point on toxic people. It may seem hard hearted, but sometimes, you just have to cut your losses. Cheers. Allan

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