In recent weeks, I’ve shared 16 ways to say “no,” how to avoid burnout, how to amplify your vibe, and envisioning your ideal holiday season to better grasp what your priorities are.


I’m all about practical strategies for making life better.


And…we can’t control everything.


Life still happens. Things don’t always go as planned.


Dinners don’t turn out. Family members push all your buttons, right where it hurts. Even when you put a great deal of care into creating the conditions for a peaceful holiday season, it will likely be imperfect.


Aunt Kate will point out that you’re not married yet, and your clock is ticking. Have you thought about the fact that your clock is ticking?


Uncle Jim will drink too much and ask inappropriate questions.


Your partner’s sister will refuse to discipline her child as he stomps on everyone’s feet under the table.


Your mother will do something passive-aggressive. It happens every time.


It’s easy to get wrapped up in analysis and criticism when things go sideways. A cloud of negativity can seem to take up permanent residence in your mind. And that never ends well, does it? Ruminating on everything that’s not right, it’s easy to descend into that familiar spiral of blame and shame, feeling demotivated and maybe even powerless to climb out of it.


We don’t solve problems when we’re in this state. We don’t come up with great ideas or creative new approaches to old problems when the cloud of negativity is casting its long shadow over us.


In each of these cases, you could absolutely address it head on through a conversation. But sometimes, that might feel like too much and we’re not really in the space to keep it quite that real.


Here’s a different approach that will help you become impervious to these triggers. It’s a little game I learned from my mentor, Martha Beck, called Dysfunctional Family Bingo.


Before the event, take a few minutes to brainstorm the ridiculous things that you can predict will probably happen.


You know the patterns. You know what to expect. Make a mental list.


Then, whenever one of them comes true, give yourself a letter. BINGO! 


I love this game because it helps us create some mental and emotional distance between ourselves and the thing that usually upsets us. It puts us in the role of observer, on the lookout for the next point. When we’re in this role, we’re less emotionally affected by the events. 

I really do hope that everyone shows up to your gatherings full of love and compassion.

And I also hope that you’ll know how to take good care of yourself when things go sideways.

This game is one little way you can do that.  I’ve been using it for 5 years, and it never fails me.