The holiday season is upon us and that means that it is officially the time of year when you are forced to interact with the whole family, even the toxic ones. Everyone has some in their life, those toxic family members that seem to bring you down through every interaction you have, even when you have the best of intentions. It can be hard to completely avoid these types of interactions during holiday get-togethers, so it is best to prepare for them when you can.
I have had my fair share of people who seem to get a kick out of pressing my buttons. The ones that will say anything they can to get under my skin and even some who seem like they want nothing more than a fight with me for some reason. Luckily I have learned a few tricks to get through the forced interactions and I am happy to share tips for dealing with toxic family during the holidays.
Go into these tough situations knowing that you are going to be interacting with toxic people, set boundaries and don’t allow them to break through the boundaries that you have set. Whatever negativity they bring to the situation has to be met with a limit, one that you know and one that you insist they respect. Identify what you are willing to accept and then don’t allow it to get any further, once someone is treading on the surface of the limit you have set for yourself, remove yourself from the situation. Don’t allow it to go any further. Excuse yourself, go to the bathroom, get a drink, make a phone call or whatever you can do to remove yourself, fast.
Concentrate on Your Own Emotions
You can not control anyone else or how they will interact with you so it is best to focus on controlling your own emotions. Don’t let them win by getting worked up over little things. Be in charge of how you are going to react to each situation, don’t let the power of how you let them make you feel slip away. Concentrate on your own emotions and don’t let the negativity in.
Keep Things in Perspective
This event will not last forever as the old but wise saying goes, this too shall pass. No matter how uneasy the situation may make you feel, it will be over with soon and all you will have left is the memory of how you acted when things got hard. Make decisions that you can be proud of when looking back, don’t allow yourself to have any regrets. That will help a great deal when heading to family gatherings in the future.
Don’t Try to Change Them
While your heart may be in the right place, it is not always the best idea to try to change another person’s behavior. It can really come back to haunt you in the long run. Live and let live, allow them to do their thing and do your best to deal with it, the way things are. Have realistic expectations about each interaction and know that a holiday party or family get together isn’t exactly the ideal time to dissect someone’s life. Save that awkward conversation for a New Years’ party when you can blame the alcohol on any hurtful words that got a little too real.
Plan an Exit Strategy
When you have had enough, it can be hard to escape an awkward conversation. Plan your exit ahead of time because most likely you will have to remove yourself from a battle you didn’t even mean to get into but somehow you found yourself there, yet again. Plan an exit strategy that will allow you to leave these types of uncomfortable situations without having to think on your feet. Whether that strategy is to leave a conversation or to leave the entire situation, having a way out will help alleviate anxiety built up around confrontations that are bound to arise when dealing with toxic family members.
I hope these tips have helped you feel a little more prepared to take on those uncomfortable situations. Keep in mind that if you feel putting yourself through family functions causes you more harm than good, there is no reason to continue those relationships. Don’t let anyone tell you that because someone is your mother, father, brother, sister, or whoever that you have to have a relationship with them. Sometimes the only way to remedy the situation is to remove yourself from it, even if that means cutting people off from your life.