The joys of Christmas, when family and friends come together to celebrate and share the love!!! But you find yourself frantically finishing off impossible work deadlines, stressing over the financial dent it will leave in your bank account and to top it off, the thought of dealing with impossible family members who deeply despise you or who have for years used you as the brunt of their jokes or belittled or simply ignored you. The grandmother who favours your brothers children and makes it obvious when the kids open their presents, having to smile politely when you get your tenth consecutive year of re gifted hand cream, the pressure to be at 5 places at once and the list goes on. Yep you’ve been triggered and emotions in your household run high.
Some ideas to try
- In a game of tug of war try letting go of the rope, let them be right.
- For the perpetual criticiser, remember that you don’t need to justify or defend yourself. Try deflection “I like your hairstyle” “don’t worry about me, I’m fine”, “I’ve never looked at it that way”, “thank you, I never knew that about myself”
- Set boundaries “ if you keep yelling at me, I won’t continue this conversation”
- For the complainer, think about what they need right now and keep them busy “I love the way you fold napkins, I’m hopeless, would you mind?”
- If you feel bullied, agree with them or exaggerate eg: “you’ve put on weight” ”I know, I’m humongous, you should see my butt wobble when I’m naked”, “that’s very observant of you” or else reflect back what they have just said “so you saying I’m fat” and when all else fails just say “orange”.
- Do your best to depersonalise and not take things personally. Remember it’s not about you, it’s about them, so don’t take the bait, just smile and nod. “I hear what you’re saying but I don’t see it that way”
- If you find yourself being left out of the clique, take something to do while your other half is busy socialising, a book, some art, a story or if you are the shy one, give yourself a role like the photographer for the day to keep you occupied.
- If you’re the host, make your guests pull out a number from a hat to coincide with pre placed seating numbers so that who you sit with is random. If you have someone who always takes over the conversation, organise an activity. Ask the guests to take it in turns to say “one good thing that happened this year or one thing I learned this year”.
- If gifts are a problem, organise a Kris Kringle or establish a present limit.
Remember that by worrying or getting stressed before the event, you are actually giving over your power. It’s time to reclaim it and not let them rattle you, mix it up, do something out of the ordinary and remember that staying calm is your best weapon, it makes the other person look silly.
If all else fails, keep a set of headphones in your pocket! Try and see the humour and remember how lucky you are that you don’t live with them.
For enquiries about family counselling services, contact John Arber for your first initial phone chat for free.