NOTE: If you came to this page because you read the article below elsewhere and you're ready to receive your free “Trigger Dance Prevention & Management Packet” for implementing the material in the article, click HERE. If you've not yet read this article, you will find a link to access these worksheets at the end of the article.
You know all the growth you've done since your last family visit? And those vows concerning different ways you'll behave with them this time?

Well, here's the catch: No matter how good your intentions, you may be at risk of kissing some of that great progress good-bye, at least temporarily, when you're with your family. Here are some tips for greatly reducing that possibility! If visiting family is a challenge for you, for holidays or at any other time, don't leave home without first reviewing these vital tips!

The secret to using these tips is to recognize that there are certain long-standing unpleasant patterns of interaction in your family that you and your family are used to repeating. You play a role in these automatic patterns that you no longer enjoy playing. This article is about strategies to avoid being triggered when these patterns repeat - and what to do when you are caught in a trigger dance . A "Trigger Dance" is a habitual way that two or more people have of interacting that upsets them, erodes their sense of wellbeing, or disrupts their connection with each other (that is, triggers them).

The biggest key to visiting family without backsliding is to develop your own personal "Triggering Response Plan." This plan has two main parts to it. The first part has to do with the planning you do prior to visiting. The second part deals with action steps to focus on during the visit itself.

PART I: THREE PLANNING AREAS PRIOR TO THE VISIT: 1) Trigger Dance Preparation, 2) Logistics Planning & 3) Self-Care Planning.
TRIGGER DANCE PREPARATION. Make a list of the Trigger Dances you expect to occur during this visit. Describe your traditional role in each of them. For each Trigger Dance, make a list of 3 alternatives to your usual role (i.e., ways you might prevent the dance from starting, ways to respond differently once the dance starts but before much damage is done, and/or ways to take better care of yourself after the damage is done). Make a list of how your potential new dance steps might rock the family boat. Finally, based on this information, decide which risks you're willing to take should that Trigger Dance occur.
LOGISTICS PLANNING. Decide the following ahead of time: (a) where you'll stay during your visit; (b) who you'll visit and for how long; (c) which activities you will participate in; and (d) who you want to spend more time with and who do you want to spend less time with during your visit.
SELF-CARE PLANNING. Make some commitments to yourself ahead of time for some excellent self-care. These activities include: meditation, prayer time, naps, eating something healthy, exercise, walks, meetings, support system phone calls or visits, journal writing, surrendering control, abstaining from anesthesia, reading, laughing, listening to music, or visualizing white light protecting you and your family.
PART II: THERE ARE 4 ACTION AREAS DURING YOUR VISIT: 1) Day-Beginning Activities, 2) Trigger Dance Responses, 3) Dealing with the Unexpected; and 4) Day-Ending Activities.
BEGINNING-OF-DAY CENTERING ACTIVITIES - Start the day with quiet time seeking guidance and wisdom. Review your self-care priorities and your Trigger Dance response plan selections.
TRIGGER DANCE RESPONSES - When you feel triggered, do one of the following: (a) take a time-out (it's really okay to graciously bow out of a family interaction, especially when you already know how it's going to end!); (b) try responding differently (with more love and less anger, with more vulnerability and less controlling, with more directness and less beating around the bush, with more compassion and less judgment, and/or with a boundary instead of resentment); (c) hold off responding differently and just practice observing how this interaction or Trigger Dance happens in the first place.
DEALING WITH THE UNEXPECTED - Be watching for: (a) family Trigger Dances - or contributing behaviors of your own - that you never quite understood before; (b) spontaneously and naturally acting in new, wonderful ways in which you didn't know you were capable; (c) resist the need to intervene with someone you'd planned to because they've already changed.
END-OF-DAY REJUVENATION ACTIVITIES - Celebrate the changes you made. Even if others didn't respond joyously to the new you, you still deserve credit for being more authentic and genuine.
Best wishes in using your Triggering Response Plan to prevent backsliding on your next family visit!

If you found the information in this article useful, I have created a free bonus for you: “Trigger Dance Prevention & Management Packet: Planning Sheets for Visiting With Family Without Backsliding & With Integrity.” I designed them to help you implement what you just read in this article. Click on the button below for your free packet!

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