3 Techniques for Dealing with Drama and Dysfunction During Family Gatherings
Why are Holidays with Your Family So Stressful?
If you think you are conscious and have things under control, spend the holidays with your family. Whatever level of awareness you have, the holidays always test our ability to be patient, forgiving, and mindful. I have to confess, on more than one occasion I have left family holiday gatherings and said, “I’ll never do that again.”
Family affords you the opportunity to celebrate the joy of being together with the ones we love yet they often test the ability of any normal human to remain calm, cool, and collected. You may be asking yourself, what can I do to free myself from family drama and conflict during the holidays?
I’ve got three proven techniques for dealing with family drama during the holidays. They’ve worked countless times for me and they’ll work for you, too.
Technique #1: Exercise Patience
Exercising Patience Is Critical When Dealing With Family During The Holidays.
When families gather, it often brings with it pain, suffering, annoyance, and even irritation. We’ve all experienced something like this, some more than others. For example, your spouse rolls their eyes as you pour another glass of wine, mothers pressure their daughters about marriage, fathers pressure their sons to get a job, one sibling is doing better in their career than another, Uncle Bob is simply an asshole, and the list goes on.
Before going to any family gathering I always remind myself to be patient and give everybody a lot of space. Some members have a need to excessively share things, while others sit quietly seeking attention for their suffering. When everybody has room to just be themselves then tension can be released. To be the peace in the room you must be present, patient, and create space.
Technique #2: Forgive, Forget, and Move On
Forgive, Forget, and Move On is the Theme of the Season.
If you began with being present, patient, and creating room for them, the next big test will be easy. Forgiveness is the key to getting beyond the drama of family gatherings. First, forgive yourself for how you might be judging others and having feelings or thoughts of hate or anger. If you want to be upset with someone you are unconsciously giving your power to them.
Past upsets are often predictors of future behavior. When you forgive yourself then you can easily forgive others who may have “wronged” you in the past. You’re younger brother may still owe you the money he borrowed from you three years ago, but is it really worth letting ruin family get-togethers for the foreseeable future? I can tell you with certainty, it is not.
Now, let’s flip the scenario and say someone is holding a grudge against you. If they want to be unconscious and act in an unkind manner, truly, they are only being unkind to themselves. They need compassion and forgiveness. Send it to them in their time of need and give yourself a great gift, freedom from their story and drama.
Technique #3: Be Mindful
Being mindful of our thoughts, words, and deeds during the holidays is one of the best ways to free yourself of shared family pain. Mindfulness begins with mindful listening. When we listen to others beyond what they are saying it often reveals their underlying pain.
Be mindful and aware of the need to perceive yourself as being unfairly treated. We can easily default to becoming the victim of someone else. If you feel the urge of “poor me”, don’t go there.
If your daughter brings a less than favorable new boyfriend to dinner, I encourage you to fight the urge to think to yourself, “why is she doing this to me?” Instead, acknowledge that you are not the most important person in the world and it doesn’t revolve around you. Your daughter has her own reasons for liking the young man and by not letting it bother you, you’ll enjoy a much more pleasant dinner free from bickering.
And lastly be mindful of the way things are, not how you want them to be. We often want to see situations and people for how we want them to be, and when they are not, we get disappointed. Be mindful about listening to others, the need to be unfairly treated and setting yourself up for disappointment, will free you from the projection of others' pain and drama.
The holidays are a time when we can heal the past, celebrate the present and bring joy to the future. Patience, forgiveness, and mindfulness of others will free you of what otherwise could be a nightmare of a holiday or self-inflicted holiday depression.
Blessings and Love,