6 Ways to Face Family When it’s Unpleasant

We all have had one of those times, that crazy aunt that goes a bit too far, a mom that won’t let it go…With the holidays approaching how do we interact during a time that should bring joy? How can we keep our cool when someone in our family says or does something that hurts?

First thing first: I think we all can agree that the most important question is, How Important Is the Relationship? Do you want to be RIGHT or do you want RELATIONSHIP? So maybe you don’t want a full-blown bestie relationship. But you also don’t want a fistfight rolling out into the front yard during Christmas dinner, right?

Here are six things you can ask yourself to help fuel your spirit of self-control in the middle of a brewing storm before it turns into a full-blown hurricane.

1. Calm yourself down by not taking it personally. So what they’re crazy–just remind yourself that it’s not you, it’s them.

2.Most people have tons of opinions, so regardless of how you feel, keep the importance of relationship building at the forefront of your mind. Their opinion does not have to change yours; let them have it. So what if they hate or love Trump. Smile and nod.

3. Listen. Even if it is hard to listen to someone whose opinion you don’t agree with. Relationships have to ebb and flow. Try to put yourself in their shoes. Or better, yet, simply distract yourself mentally while they’re talking. 😉

 4. Ask yourself if it is important to fix them, to get them to see your point, or to put them in their place. Will it actually HELP the situation? Usually, the answer is NO. It’s not your job to fix them. It is not your job to tell anyone what they are doing is wrong or what others find annoying about them. I know it may feel like you are helping but usually, you aren’t.

5. You CAN walk away. Don’t feel obligated to ever be best friends with people who make you feel uncomfortable. You may have to sit through some annoying conversations at a New Years Eve party or bite your tongue till it bleeds, but it is one afternoon to keep the peace for everyone else. Expressing self-control at this one event is not a license you are granting them to hang out every Sunday afternoon.

6. It’s not all about you. While it can feel that way when you get hurt and offended, remember everyone else who is in the room or around you. Your children, their children, the sisters or mothers or in-laws… they don’t want to have an awkward day either. This may sound harsh, but HAVING to respond to the comment that slipped out the side of the neck of your crazy aunt Jen is being selfish.

You CAN be a bigger person who is choosing the high road and operating in the spirit of self-control. Let’s be clear, there may be some underlying issues that are deeper rooted than annoyance and crazy. Those may take counseling and prayer. This may be a relationship that needs work and could use a heart to heart on both ends. But holidays may not be the time.

So if and when it’s time to have that heart to heart, pray. Pray that hearts would be softened and open to receive- both yours and theirs. It may not be an issue that needs a full blown heart to heart and part of the problem is that YOU think it’s an issue that needs a heart to heart. So what, they’re crazy. Embrace it during those few times a year and move on.

For a great book when it’s time to salvage and work through a relationship, or simply manage your emotions, check out Crucial Conversations and Unglued. Go ahead, put one on your Christmas list.

Rebecca Bender is a nationally recognized and awarded expert on domestic sex trafficking. After escaping nearly six years of both labor and sex trafficking, she emerged as a Survivor Leader, providing consulting, training and speaking with some of the largest anti-trafficking groups and government agencies in the country, including FBI, Homeland Security , and former president Jimmy Carter. After writing her first book, Roadmap to Redemption, she founded the Rebecca Bender Initiative.

Embracing Joy