Getting Along With Difficult Family Members During the Holidays
Here are some tips to cultivate positive relationships with even the most difficult family members and create an enjoyable experience for everyone.
- Be Self-Aware – Know what sets off a stress reaction in you and ask yourself what stressors you can avoid. For instance, if putting on an elaborate dinner all by yourself for 30 people has the potential to turn you into an ogre, don’t do it! Have others contribute to the meal by bringing a dish or delegate tasks to family and guests. Be aware of your expectations and be realistic. Take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually and you will be much more capable of staying calm and cordial. This will have a positive effect on others and will help everyone to get along.
- Make a Plan – In the days leading up to the holidays, take some time to reflect on the desired outcomes that you want for your family gathering. Then consider what actions and behaviours you will commit to that will lead to your goals. Consider your responses to the usual criticisms ahead of time and respond with logic rather than emotion, even when triggered. Make a conscious decision to be tactful and polite. Plan on taking a break from others if you need to, staying positive and not engaging in gossip.
- Don’t Take Things Personally – Negative comments, criticisms, digs, sarcastic remarks and accusations say everything about the speaker and nothing about the receiver. These people are most likely operating out of fear and low self-esteem. Instead of being angered and upset, have compassion for them; they are in emotional pain. Taking things personally only hurts you. Knowing that it’s not about you frees you to be yourself.
- Be Grateful – Look for the positive characteristics in people, even when their behaviour is less than desirable. Express your gratitude for the little things you really appreciate about them and ignore the negative traits. This will serve to not only reinforce those positive behaviours, but studies show that people who feel and express gratitude are generally happier and feel less resentment and irritation. It’s a win-win! Reconnect with your goals that you established for the holidays and reflect on all of your positive accomplishments.
Remember, you don’t have control over other people’s behaviour, only your own. Being self-aware, having a plan, not taking things personally, and being grateful will have a positive effect on the family dynamic. When you behave differently, others will too. Happy Holidays!
For more information on positive relationships, contact Susanne.