A Conversation on Gratitude, Difficult Relationships, and the Holiday Season with Dr. Anna Roth

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This month on Wit & Delight, we’re covering ideas surrounding the topic of gratitude. There can be a lot of guilt that comes from not feeling grateful for all that you have. Yet as we begin to move into the holiday season, it’s important to remember that the holidays are filled with really complicated emotions and there isn’t one right way to navigate tricky situations.

In this episode, I am back with holistic psychologist Dr. Anna Roth to explore the best way to prep for the holidays regardless of your family dynamic. We talk about how to approach difficult situations with family members, how to handle manipulative topics in conversations, and how to plan for the outcome you want when going into social situations.

Read an excerpt from our interview below, and listen to the entire episode on The Wit & Delight Podcast! You can also listen to our first episode with Dr. Anna Roth here, where we discuss the topic of therapy, our second episode here, where we discuss the topic of natural beauty, and our third episode here, where we discuss the topic of ADHD.


Name: Dr. Anna Roth
Occupation: Holistic PhD Psychologist and Registered Yoga Teacher
Website: Dr. Anna Roth
Instagram: @drannaroth
About Anna: Dr. Anna Roth is passionate about integrative and embodied treatment approaches to mental health. She thrives at identifying root causes and providing strategic intervention that is as multidimensional as the humans she helps. She is currently working in private practice in Minneapolis and accepting new clients both in-person and online. To learn more about her modern mental health program for women, click here.

If you are interested in connecting with Dr. Anna Roth, please learn more about her Truth Tellers Program. Dr. Anna is offering an exclusive discount to W&D readers and podcast listeners for the Truth Tellers Program

  • First month free for the online program using code: W&D
  • $50 off the in-person offering using code: W&D1

Why are the holidays so hard for so many of us?

Dr. Anna Roth: I think the holidays are tough for so many reasons, and can be triggering in a lot of different ways. They illuminate the contrast between what we wished we had and what we don’t. They are a reminder of unfinished business. They present the challenge of setting boundaries in interpersonal relationships. It’s an intersection of all of these tough things at once paired with the expectation that we’re supposed to be joyful and loving it.

That makes so much sense, and that mirrors my experience. I remember asking myself, in past holiday seasons, why is everyone so fucking happy? And I also sometimes felt shame about not being grateful for all that I had. Even in years that were very prosperous for us, I would still find ways to leave them feeling a little empty. 

Dr. Anna Roth: As we go into Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general, one of the things we can do is enter into it with realistic expectations. We can be grateful for the aspects of our life that are going well—the relationships we have that we love, our health, whatever it is that’s working—and we can still feel our pain points about what the holidays or Thanksgiving or whatever bring up. 

As we go into Thanksgiving and the holiday season in general, one of the things we can do is enter into it with realistic expectations. We can be grateful for the aspects of our life that are going well—the relationships we have that we love, our health, whatever it is that’s working—and we can still feel our pain points about what the holidays or Thanksgiving or whatever bring up. 

I think sometimes when we think about gratitude or when we hear about it, we think it’s just supposed to be this blanket feeling of, I should feel grateful and therefore I should feel nothing else.

Right! Yes, completely. I have that all or nothing feeling.

Dr. Anna Roth: And we can’t do that. Most of us can’t do that. So then we feel like we’re not grateful or we feel like we’re bad people. We feel like we have so much to be grateful for and there must be something wrong with us that that isn’t enough. And we’re just so much more complex than that. We have so many different feelings at once, and we’re allowed to. So that’s one thing to think about as you’re going into this holiday season.

Can we talk about people who trigger us during the holidays? Sometimes, no matter how much visualizing you do, you find yourself engaging with them, and the shame spiral happens. 

Dr. Anna Roth: Well, I think sometimes we have this template for how we think we should handle things. And what we really need to do is evaluate the situation and do some early planning ahead of it.

We need to check in with ourselves emotionally, spiritually, and physically, and ask, “How am I doing right now in life? What am I up for?” And then make a plan?

Dr. Anna Roth: Yeah. Knowing historically what your triggers have been around holidays, knowing who feels emotionally safe to you, knowing what traditions you tend to really enjoy. You start to make a plan now.

I think people have a lot of anxiety, especially here in the Midwest, about both the fact that winter coming and also about the holidays. So we want to avoid it and then we end up in the same exact situation year and year, feeling bad all the while. So that’s something I really recommend that people do if they tend to struggle in the holiday season is to make a plan now.


Hear more of our conversation with Dr. Anna Roth here:

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