Family reunions can be a chance for you to practice boundaries and self-control, be emotionally resilient and strong, not get triggered, and dare to express your true self.
Many people have anxiety about toxic relationships related to their families and how they have to confront them during family reunions or holidays. Interacting with family members that you don’t get along with can be a personal challenge or a chance to have a personal transformation. It’s not about changing the things that you don’t like about them but transforming how you behave when you are around those people.
If you left home a long time ago, you’ve grown as a person, you’ve changed, you’ve evolved, and then every time you go back home, you feel like you’ve stepped into a time warp, and you’re suddenly eight years old again, this is a chance to transform yourself. You can be who you are now and not who you used to be when you still lived at home. Before interacting with difficult family members, it would be helpful if you prepared emotionally. Here are some tips from motivational speaker Mel Robbins to bear in mind when it comes to dealing with difficult family members:
1. Don’t assume your old role: Just because you’re in your childhood home or with people you know from your childhood, do not make the mistake of falling back into old patterns. Make sure what those are to have them in check for yourself.
2. Don’t take the bait: There are relatives and friends from your past who love to cause issues. They’re constantly casting like a fisherman all kinds of things out there. If you are the kind of person who when somebody gets upset, grab the baits, starts trying to make it okay, and end up arguing, don’t take it. Don’t let yourself get triggered.
3. Be a pedestrian, not a passenger: Visualize a hectic road. Some people are passengers in those cars, and others are pedestrians on the sidewalk watching the cars go by. Think about the dynamic in your family as cars that zip down the highway. Everybody’s got all kinds of issues and conversations. However, when you’re around your family, your role is to be a pedestrian on the sidewalk, watching it all go by. Don’t get into a car full of guilt or arguments.
4. Empathy is your superpower: Your relationship with others can dramatically change for the better when you stop judging them and start thinking about what they must be feeling. If you’ve got somebody in your life that’s angry, says hurtful things, that’s disappointed or upset, all of those things are just a mask for hurt. For most normal human beings, if they’re exhibiting bad behavior, it’s just unexpressed hurt. Think about how many struggles they’ve faced or how lonely they are. Thinking from the point of view that’s empathetic, it’s very personally transforming because it helps you set boundaries, not get triggered, be more emotionally mature and resilient, and help you make these interactions an opportunity for personal transformation instead of a massive personal challenge.