5 Healthy Ways To Engage With Family (When They’re Driving You Crazy) This Holiday Season

Christmas is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas. – Dale Evans.


Oh the holidays!

They can be both the most magical and sparkly time of year, and also the hardest. There’s something about family getting together that can be quite stressful, along with all the fun.

All our old patterns come out, our old feelings surface, and it’s just so darn hard to enjoy the holidays when those things happen.

Which is a shame, because really, the holidays are an awesome opportunity to be around loved ones, and show and receive a massive amount of love.

I don’t want you to miss out on all of that fun, so here are 5 ways to deal with family, even when they’re driving you nuts.

1) Realize it isn’t about you

So many times, we get upset with the way our family behaves.

Maybe they make you feel like you don’t ever do anything good enough, or maybe your mom stresses you out about having to have the most perfect dinner table arrangements. Or maybe your Aunt Hilda gets too drunk and embarrasses you in front of your new boyfriend.

Whatever the thing is that annoys you about your family, it’s likely that it isn’t even about you.

Your mom being stressed? That’s hers.
Your brother being rude? That’s his.
Your aunt being drunk? Hers.

The more you don’t take on the stresses of everyone else’s behavior, the better off you’ll be.

2) Don’t expect them to change

Most of the time, we want our families to be different. We wish mom and dad would act differently, but the problem is, most likely, mom and dad will never act differently. This might just be the way they are. And if that’s the case, the more you want them to change, the worse off you’ll be.

So what you CAN do is approach them differently. If something they do or say triggers an old behavior or response from you, try a different response.

Unfortunately you can’t change other people (I know…I’ve tried!!), but what you can do is change the way you think about it or change the way you respond. Try this on for size and see how much better the situation feels.

3) Speak their love language

A lot of times, pain occurs when you’re speaking a different love language than someone else.

For example… imagine that your mom likes to talk about her day and all the things that are frustrating her. Probably for her, she just likes to talk through things and feels like she’s being heard.

Well, when this happens, perhaps you like to try to solve the problem. And mom gets mad. Why? Because she doesn’t want you to solve the problem. She just wants to talk about it.

Already, you’re speaking different languages and you’re probably both frustrated as hell.

One thing you can do here is think about what love language your family member speaks, and then try to speak to them that way, even if it’s different than the way you usually like to express love.

If you’re not sure what language you speak, here is a list that explains them all.

4) Change the subject

Imagine this: Your family member brings up something you don’t want to talk about for whatever reason. Or a different side of the same coin is that a family member is talking about something that you really don’t want to engage in.

A lot of times what happens is that we feel stuck. We feel like we MUST engage in the way they want us to. But the truth is, we get to control how we engage and what we talk about.

One way to handle this is to decide what you will and won’t engage in and let it end there.

Here’s an example: Let’s say your little sister likes to gossip about your middle sister, and each time she does this you feel like you get sucked into the drama and you really don’t like it.

Instead of engaging your little sister, this time, you can say something like “Yeah, I hear you. So what should we get mom for Christmas this year?”

This way, you’re saying, “I heard what you said, but I’m deciding not to engage in the conversation.”

5) Get the space you need

Just because you’re around family for the holidays doesn’t mean you need to be around the family AT ALL TIMES.

Think about it… you go from living your own life, likely out of the house, seeing your family only every once in awhile, to being around them 24/7. No wonder why it feels stressful!

Your routine is all out of whack, and you’re constantly all up in each other’s space.

So here is something you can try… get out of the house when you need to. Take some alone time when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Take a walk, or go in a room alone and journal.

The point here is to recognize when you need a little extra space, and then doing whatever you need to do to get it. You and your family will feel better when you’re all relaxed and feeling present with them.

Ok that’s it for the 5 healthy ways to deal with family when they’re driving you crazy. The holidays don’t have to be stressful. They can be loving and fun and with a little effort on your part, I believe you can turn it all around. After all, it is the season for love.

Which one of these ideas resonates with you the most? What would you add to the list? As always, we love hearing your thoughts in the comments below.

Have a happy holiday season!

Sally HopeSally Hope is a motorcycle riding, skeet shooting, hot-pink lipstick loving renegade life coach and the leader of the Wildheart Revolution. Her biggest goal in life is to help you Carpe The Hell Outta Your Diem, by being 100% yourself. For tips on how, join her at www.sallyhope.com or on Facebook, where she hangs out most of the time.

Main photo via Flickr, Scott Feldstein

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  1. says

    All of these ideas are helpful. Personally, #4 and #5 are the ones I end up using the most. The biggest challenge in my extended family is the swarm of little kids. So taking a break (#5) helps.

    My addition is organizing a group activity such as caroling can bring people together.

    All the best to you this Christmas.

  2. says

    This is a great article Sally filled with useful tips to make the holidays a more peaceful time of year! Number 2 is always the hardest for me — i struggle with wanting everyone else to change and thinking that I don’t need to 🙂 Thanks for the reminder!

  3. says

    I know this is an old post but I just wanted to say that I loved it!
    I have family coming to stay with me this weekend and I will definitely be using some of these tips!


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