deal with judgment during the holidays

How to Deal With Judgment During the Holidays

Last Updated: Tue, January 23, 2024

During your recovery journey, there are going to be times when sobriety is more difficult than others. This is the reality, and there are always going to be bumps in the road, no matter how long you have been sober.

For many people, the holidays are particularly difficult since times of celebration come with a lot of temptation. This is especially true if you are recovering from alcohol since this is incredibly prevalent during the holidays, no matter where you go.

Many people also feel like they experience more judgment during the holidays if they are trying to stay sober. If coming from friends and family, this judgment can make it difficult to maintain relationships during the holidays without backpedaling on your progress. 

In this article, we will be talking about this kind of judgment and how you can deal with it so the holidays do not interfere with your recovery.

Understand Where Judgment is Coming From

If you feel as though people are judging you for your sobriety during the holidays, this doesn’t usually have much of anything to do with you. It can be hard to acknowledge that how people treat you usually has more to do with them than you since you are the one dealing with the aftermath. But the reality is that people often lash out due to their own personal insecurities if you have hit a nerve.

Everyone has their own inner critic that scrutinizes their every action, and it makes them feel self-conscious around others. If someone is judging you for your sobriety during the holidays, they likely have their own issues around drinking and staying sober.

You may have friends and family who are rude and draw attention to you for not drinking at holiday events and gatherings. In a lot of instances, this is coming from a place of guilt about the fact that they themselves are consuming alcohol during these occasions. That is why it is important to not take the way others behave to heart since it is a reflection of them, not you.

There are plenty of people out there who struggle with sobriety and are trying to hide it from everyone around them. Because it is so socially accepted to participate in things like drinking, it can strike a nerve when they are around someone who has openly abstained from it.

Address Your Own Behavior

If you feel judged by friends and family during the holidays, you may need to address your own behavior in some instances. This is not always the case, but it is always a good idea to self-reflect to make sure you are not causing judgment in some way.

Whether you are aware of it or not, you may be doing things or saying things that put those around you on edge or on the defensive. When you are on your recovery journey, it is easy to want to bring everyone else with you. This is especially common if you have friends or family who struggle with sobriety and have yet to start their recovery.

Part of sobriety is understanding that you are only responsible for your own actions. You cannot control what those around you do, and you should not try to control them since they have to take the steps for themselves.

Before jumping to conclusions about how those around you behave, self-reflect to make sure you are not casting any judgment on them. Judgment can sometimes be a two-way street, and you do not want to be the one to initiate this conflict.

Warn Friends and Loved Ones Ahead of Time

The holidays are usually booming with all kinds of events where drinking may be involved. Depending on your sobriety journey, you may need to abstain from some of these events to avoid triggers. This is especially important if you are just in the beginning stages of recovery and haven’t found the best ways to deal with temptation.

To avoid conflict with friends and loved ones, you want to ensure transparency and communicate this to them. Let them know that you may have to avoid certain events if you know there will be excess drinking involved. Letting people know beforehand prepares them so they are not disappointed in the moment.

Find Like-Minded Friends

One of the biggest parts of your sobriety journey is finding like-minded people to surround yourself with. If your friends and family are not sober, this is especially important since they may not understand what you are going through. This is especially common during the holidays, when they may expect you to let loose so that you can join the festivities.

Finding local communities and friends will be vital for maintaining social connections without walking into potentially triggering environments. Having like-minded people around you allows you to still enjoy holiday activities without putting yourself in potentially harmful situations.

Speak With Your Therapist

No matter where you are in your recovery journey, you should have a therapist you speak with regularly. Just about everyone could benefit from therapy, especially if you are recovering from an addiction and need someone to confide in.

The holidays can be challenging for the best of us, especially if you are surrounded by friends and family who don’t understand what you are dealing with. Having a therapist gives you someone to speak with, a third party who can give you clarity and professional advice.

A therapist who has experience with addiction can also help you stay accountable even when you come into contact with triggering situations.


As wonderful as the holidays are, they come with significant challenges for people who are in recovery. It can be especially challenging if your loved ones don’t understand your sobriety journey and cast judgment on you for it.

During these times, you have to remember that how others behave reflects themselves and the conflict they are battling. Your main priority should be focusing on your journey and doing what is best for your mental health.

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