Surviving the Holidays with Your Loved Ones and Other Difficult People

Posted by on Oct 31, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Surviving the Holidays with Your Loved Ones and Other Difficult People

“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”

-George Burns

This is the time of year that we make plans to spend time together.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, whatever holiday you chose to celebrate, you may be planning to spend time with your family.

If you like your family, this is not a problem. If you find your family to be a challenge, time together could be uncomfortable at best, a nightmare at worst.

Who comes to mind when you think of gathering together for various meals and activities?

Do you have a mother-in-law that questions why you stay at home with the kids “instead of working?” Do you have a boisterous uncle who shows up late every year, and picks a fight with their spouse, to make things at the dinner table even more uncomfortable?

People and situations like that can make your holiday season an uncomfortable experience, and one you don’t particularly look forward to. Here are some tips for how to get through the season:

  • Stop expecting other people to change.

Your family members act the same way, do the same things, and say the same things every year, and yet, you continue to be surprised. The truth is, your family members are no different than they were last year, or the year before. We might not be able to control them, but we can control ourselves.

More specifically, we can control how we respond to them. We can work on accepting them for who they are. Take steps personally to adapt and adjust, so that you can accept loved ones, and move forward. The purpose is not to necessarily let people off the hook or “win” somehow. It is simply a way to help you feel better during the holidays. Simply expect the expected or expect nothing at all. Then, perhaps, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, There’s no need to make yourself unnecessarily miserable.

  • Don’t personalize.

Remember, in most cases, the people in your family probably aren’t intentionally trying to drive you crazy or to be personally hurtful. They’re likely just being themselves. Usually, the people that are driving us to distraction are doing their best, despite the outcome. Instead of continually interpreting what they do negatively, try to put yourself in you loved ones’ shoes.

Why would they act in a way that is so frustrating for others? Maybe the holidays are difficult for them. Perhaps they have a reason for their behavior. It is important to note that this doesn’t apply to the truly toxic family member. The key there is to set boundaries and make it clear what will, and will not, be tolerated at family gatherings.

  • Focus on something else.

The more something bothers you, the more you tend to focus on it. Do things to help yourself. To draw your attention away difficult people or situations, get up, move away from annoying or confrontational people, sit somewhere else, and engage in another conversation.

  • This is family business, not necessarily holiday pleasure.

Remind yourself that family time may not be the warmest, fuzziest part of your holiday season, but it is just one part. Check it off your list, and plan more satisfying, enjoyable holiday experiences for yourself. One barely tolerable family gathering doesn’t not have to meet all of your holiday needs. Choose to meet those more festive wishes elsewhere.

  • Keep holidays in perspective.

It may certainly feel like family gatherings are unbearable and interminable. But they will end; the holidays are time-limited. Consider the many facets of your life. Don’t focus too heavily, for too long, on the family aspects of the season.

Online Therapy Available NowRead More