But Seriously, They're crazy.
The holidays are times of joy, love, and family. THEORETICALLY. For many, the dread of getting together with your family is overwhelming. You could name a million of things that would be less painful than sitting at a table with a dozen of your not-so-favorite relatives while the rehash age-old wounds. Whether your problems with your family spread from minor annoyance to total blowout, here are some basic guidelines for surviving the festivities, and hey, perhaps even thriving.
Rule one of every situation. breathe. This is just one to a couple of days. You've survived your family this long, you'll survive a little longer. Fill that beautiful brain of yours up with oxygen and release all the little, and not-so-little things, your family does to drive you to the edge. You will make it through this. It's not as bad as you think.
2. Devise an escape plan.
Life is easier when you know what to expect. Create an escape plan before heading over to your RELATIVE's place. Whether that's a plan to leave or a safe place for you to go to catch a breather from the chaos. Know this plan before walking into the perceived war zone. Prescribe breaks into your trip, and often. Everyone needs a little breather from time to time from social interaction; Maybe a little more frequently during the holidays. Develop a code word with your spouse to be mindful of their need to escape from your crazy family as well.
3. Use the buddy system.
Strength in numbers is a must. Don't go into the holidays alone. Find that one sane person you can turn to throughout the trip, whether it be your spouse, bring along a friend, or find that cousin that always makes you laugh so hard that milk comes out of your nose. whatever the case you need a support system. Allow others in on your nerves of being around your family. Be vulnerable.
4. Create your own boundaries.
Whether its your mother telling you that you gained twenty pounds, your dad being critical of the new house you just bought, or your great aunt screaming obscenities at you from across the table: know your boundaries. Don't allow your aunt to get under your skin. Set your boundaries of how much you will tolerate and respectfully state them to others you fear are crossing them. You deserve to have a peaceful loving holiday. Let others know when they have made that difficult. Practice this with me "I feel _____ when you _____." memorize it. Use it often.
5. Remind yourself of the positives
Yes, every single holiday may end with your grandmother throwing the ham at your mother, but remember what the holidays are all about: family. Yes your family may be absolutely out of their mind, and I feel for you. But through all this they've shaped you into the wonderful, yet crazy, person you are today. So give them a break and remember that the holidays might be just as stressful for them as they are for you.
Give yourself a break. you survived. Indulge in some Netflix, close the shades, break out the tacos, whatever you need to recharge. the holidays may bring up many issues for you, if these are overwhelming, seek out additional support from others, whether friends, significant others, or therapy. Many of these family issues we have stuffed down just as fast as grandma's mashed potatoes, however, being honest with yourself and understanding your need for a clear mind is vital to living a happy life without the heavy burden of your family weighing you down.
From my crazy family to yours, Happy Holidays!
Brittany Malak, LMFT
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