The Festive Season Relationship Rule Book: Part 1 Dealing With Difficult Relatives

You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea, and they’re not all going to be yours. And that is the same when it comes to the family too. In most cases, if you dislike somebody, you don’t have to spend time with them in your free time. However, this is not an option when the person you dislike is in your family, and especially when it is the holiday season.

It is also not an option to not partake in the festivities because then you are the only one losing out. This means that you must learn to deal with these feelings for the sake of everyone else around you trying to enjoy the festivities.

Luckily for you, I have a few excellent tips that can help you to deal with the most difficult of people, including even [dare I say it] our relatives…

Display tact and diplomacy. Don’t lower yourself to gossiping about those you dislike or making a show of yourself in front of other family members or mutual friends. Instead, deal with these feelings in a healthier way such as boosting your exercise regime, or try offloading your feelings on trusted friends or family members who will listen to you.

Put yourself in their shoes. Ignore your own views for a second and look at the problem as if you were the other person. Is there something you might be doing that even you would find frustrating or difficult? Is there an aspect of their personality that explains why they react the way that they do? This will help build empathy and can be an enlightening experience.

Change the flow. Usually, without even realising, most family members tend to take up a role within the family- the comedian, the superb storyteller, the entertainer, the black sheep. Every year you might find yourself forced back into your role as you watch others return to theirs. Recognising your old role can help you to change the way your family perceives you by refusing to conform to the script.

Embrace the differences. Naturally, we are drawn to people who are more like us. However, there is value in finding people who are different from ourselves. Try to embrace the dissimilarities and variations between your personalities. You might even find interest in someone you once disliked, or come to see things in a completely novel way. 

Delay reacting. Don’t react immediately if somebody has done something you don’t like. This may cause you to say words you don’t mean and cannot take back. It might also cause a lot of discomfort for any other people surrounding you. Try ‘sleeping on it’ instead, and a new day might bring a whole new perspective and a calmer mind.

Talk to someone. If your problem continues to grow or get more serious, sweeping it under the carpet may not work. This could only cause you to become more frustrated and upset. Take the initiative and maybe arrange a time to talk, in confidence.

If you want to have a chat with someone outside of family and friends, then maybe call me so that we can go through what is on your mind.

Have plans outside of the family. There’s usually plenty of people around during the holidays because most people have time off work. Think about how much time you want to spend with the family, rather than how much you should, and fill the rest of your time accordingly. This will stop you from becoming resentful when you feel as you have to stay there all day, and it will be good for you to have a break from your family and enjoy other peoples’ company. 

Let go of the past. Just because you might have a string of unsuccessful, miserable Xmas’ does not mean that they all have to be this way. Focus on being present and head into this Xmas with no expectations. Focus solely on your own behaviour as opposed to trying to read the minds and predict the actions of others. It can help to practise mindfulness which can be of great aid when trying to remain present.

Keep checking in on yourself throughout the festive season, and give yourself time away when you need it. Making time for yourself throughout the holiday season is imperative for staying sane! You’re constantly on the move, surrounded by a lot of people, and struggling to navigate it all. If you use these tips above and still find yourself struggling, you might benefit from a conversation where we can talk through your challenges, and I can provide support to help you overcome them. Simply having somebody there to listen to your concerns can be a comfort in itself.

Make time for yourself to unwind, reflect and be appreciative for the loved ones you do have around you. Keeping perspective will help you to not only survive the holiday period but to enjoy it too!

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