Survive Your FamilyDecember 22, 2017
Is your extended family a source of strength and encouragement or do they cause you angst and anguish? No matter what you see in the movies or commercials, it’s important to understand that not everyone has a close-knit family who can playfully tease about childhood mishaps and move seamlessly into dispensing wise advice without judgment.
In fact, I’d say most people don’t have that type of familial relationship and instead have to learn how to survive visits with their family, especially at the holidays. It’s important to remember the holidays heighten emotions and nostalgia, and your go-to strategies for dealing may not be enough!
If you are unsure of how to face the family gathering this year, try adding these tips to your survival toolbox.
A Sense of Humor
When it all gets to be too much, take a metaphorical step back and have a good long laugh. You might find it helpful to pretend you are a character in a movie, even if it is a dark comedy! This exercise may help you reframe your current situation and help you see the humor during a difficult time. Just don’t start laughing out loud.
A Sense of Timing
Take the initiative to build a better family gathering with an improved sense of timing. Think back to past events and identify the moment things took a turn for the worse. This exercise will help you determine triggers so that you can escape in time! Whether that means you leave the room before Grandma starts talking politics or you have to return the rental car at a specific time (two hours after the meal perhaps?), working on your sense of timing can help you avoid some major headaches.
A Sense of Understanding
Remember that old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes? That counts for family members too. Just because you may share a bloodline or childhood experiences, doesn’t mean you know them as adults. Do your best to extend a little bit of understanding to your relatives and try to remember they may be hurting too. While you don’t have to accept abuse from family members, it can’t hurt to give a little grace to your relatives.
A Sense of Love
Find the kernel of love that connects you to your family and hold on to it tightly. Let this love serve as a guiding light that leads you back to the connection you share with these people. If that fails, make sure you love yourself enough to put your emotional health and wellbeing first. A sense of love can serve as your reminder of why you are putting yourself through another family gathering, and it can also save you from being hurt by others.
Gaining a better understanding of your relatives and the underlying complexities of your dynamics will help you approach family gatherings with a better mindset or an improved escape plan! Whether this gives you a renewed sense of affection for your relatives or a profound sense of appreciation for your “found family” of friends, these tools will help you survive your family and make your heart whole.