When a holiday or special occasion comes roaming around, there are times where some of us can’t help but to be put in the position where we have to consider spending time with family members we don’t particularly care for. For me it’s my sister in law whom I rather not have to be in the company of.
During holiday's such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, Memorial day, and Easter my mother feels torn in between the decision of which one of her children's home will she visit. Quite often she will choose my brother's home and try to convince me to go over so that we could all celebrate as a family. Whenever she chooses my brother's home I kindly refuse and explain how grateful I am for the invite but I and my children have already made plans and are going to have friends over at our home.
That doesn’t fly over so well with mom and of course for at least a few seconds we express our views to one another with a bit of hostility. Before you know it, my brother is calling me to give his opinion on the topic, which is also, not very amusing. What I find interesting in all this is how unresolved issues from the past which have nothing to do with the present, suddenly rise to the surface during our heated conversations.
It is not uncommon to have some sort of stressful family interactions, especially during the holidays or special occasion. But, over the years and with practice, I have learned that there are things we can do to considerably change how we respond to these individuals who we care for very much and are in our lives for the long haul.
Rather than letting our unresolved family conflicts continue to eat away at our insides, there are some steps we can take to help guide us and not let things go overboard:
Don’t go overboard with anger. Try and remember that this may also be stressful for the other person. Even if there is animosity, still try and not to make an enemy out of your family member. That is just going to disturb you inner peace, and put a damper on the occasion, as well as cause you emotional hurt in the long run.
Strengthen the connection you have with other siblings, cousins, in-laws and relatives who are sensible and caring, include them and your friends in your activities.
Disagreements between you and your family members can be an opportunity to learn important lessons about patience, persistence, setting good limits, or it might be that you and this other person are both a little too stubborn and possibly this family conflict is a chance to work on finding a middle ground.
Express awareness of them caring about you and let them know you care for them. Suggest making your next meeting more satisfying for both of you.
If your relative has a personality that is self-absorbed, or stubborn, don’t set up an unrealistic expectation that this person is going to change. When it comes to difficult family members, it’s good to just keep your interactions civil, while remembering you do not need to change this person’s personality. You just need to stay healthy, calm and relaxed regardless of their behavior.
When I first wrote this post, well over 4 years ago, I was experiencing a lot of depression in my life as well as many unresolved family issues. I am happy to say that I have taken my own advice over the years and have indeed practiced what I so passionately preach.
In these recent years, holidays have been a lot smoother as well more peaceful and festive.
If you are experiencing less than a festive feeling toward the holiday season, don’t be hard on yourself, you are not alone, know that there are those who understand and that you too can get through this.
For others, who don’t share any similar feelings during the holidays; feel free to share any tips that might help those who still experience some challenges.