Dealing with difficult family members might not be an easy pill to swallow. Especially during some family festivities when we’re somehow “obliged” to get together and behave at our best. How to survive and come out unscathed after spending a few days stuck under the same roof?
Before Christmas came, I was feeling on the top of my emotional balance. I’ve found myself disconnected from negative influences and empowered by positive stimulations. I’ve clearly seen how to proceed with most common scenarios happening on a daily basis. That was a great feeling. Feeling of control we’re all looking for at some point. But as life goes, another test knocked to the door.
Since I moved far from my hometown a few years ago, I’m used to seeing my family a few times a year. Such an arrangement seemed perfect as living in the same place became more and more challenging. I believed that being away will influence positively our relationships provided we don’t contact each other every day, we miss each other and we enjoy time spent together.
Some people say that beginnings are tough, but in our case, those were pretty good moments. Enthusiastic welcomes, quality time, sentimental goodbyes. I felt like we’ve been enhancing our ties. We’ve been all doing our best to avoid any unpleasant situation. With better or worse results, but at least we’ve tried. However, as you know very well, people get used to repetitive things and with the course of time appreciate less and less what is given to them. That was also a part of our story.
Time and distance make their job. We wean off certain habits, we evolve, we change. Often times, it doesn’t happen simultaneously for all of us and it doesn’t head the same direction. We start to argue again, some past incidents come back to the daylight, the mutual resentment settles down. Slowly, we become more and more like strangers. We don’t like anymore same things, we don’t have anymore the same topics which interest us, we don’t laugh at the same jokes. It’s because we don’t influence each other so strongly as we did in the past.
Furthermore, life has its cycle: our parents get older, we grow mature, our children learn more and more. The perspective changes when not influenced by old habits and routines cherished in the family circle. Some of us get open for new approaches while others get stuck with traditional ones despite their irrelevance. Another background for the conflict of generations.
So the next Christmas time came. But this time there was no enthusiasm. No quality time. No sentimental goodbye. There was a tension. Fake politeness. Counting down time to get back home alone. We’ve been all tired with pretending that everything is all right, but at the same time not willing to destroy Christmas with heated discussion over what is wrong. If people don’t want to listen to understand, if they listen to reply, then you can do nothing about it, can you?
According to Psychology Today family members are often the hardest to deal with because they’re connected to us in a more complicated, intimate way. We are almost obligated to go the extra mile for the sake of the integrity of the family group. What to do if you want to change them? Following what Family. LoveToKnow says on the matter, the only thing you can change about your family is the way you see them.
If you don’t like what you see in a family member, change what you see and how you react.https://family.lovetoknow.com
Let’s find out how to reduce the volume of tension between you and your family members.
1. List the positive traits of your family members
The worst thing you can do is to think about all the things which irritate you in someone’s behavior before even seeing him. It already increases the level of stress and plays you against this person. Trying to think about the positives might not bring the best results as our thoughts are often overshadowed by negative memories. Instead, take a piece of paper and list what is good about your family members, what do you like about them, what do you appreciate in them. It might be a tough exercise but might bring you a completely different insight on relatives you deal with.
2. Plan meetings’ intervals
Spending the entire day together might increase the chance of getting frustrated. Plan specific activities with all family members or at least some of them in the defined periods of time. Leave room between the intervals for taking a rest on your own. The more you manage to focus your family members’ attention on constructive activities, the less probability the unplanned time brings unexpected issues. Obviously, the conflicts may arise even during planned activities. Nonetheless, keeping people busy raises the likelihood of maintaining peace.
3. Take a break
When your emotions get out of control, go for a walk, make a phone call, open a book. The break is important in order to clear out the atmosphere and to make the mind up. Sometimes, it’s better to leave for a moment than to say one word out of line. If you feel that the conversation leads you nowhere, postpone it or put in on hold for some time.
It’s only you who can break the vicious circle of mutual bitterness. Waiting for others to change without you changing first hardly ever brings the expected outcome. You don’t have to accept their behaviors but you need to accept them as human beings. It’ll help you be more aware of what drives them to embrace conflictual attitudes. It’ll help you to be more open to dealing with them the way they are. And finally, it’ll help you to better manage the situation regardless of how difficult it gets.
Do you find your family relationships challenging to deal with? Why?
Do you know any checked methods to keep up with peaceful ambiance while spending time with your relatives?
How do you maintain a healthy emotional balance when facing family issues?
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