Not everyone has a family that loves to spread joy during the holidays. While a lot of families use this time to create new memories, laugh at the smallest things, and deepen the bond they have with each other, you might not belong to one of those families. Instead, you might be coming home to family members who tend to thrive in a toxic environment, even if they don’t know it. It doesn’t mean you love them any less but it can make the holidays a tad bit more difficult than it should be.
Whether it’s negative siblings or parents or dealing with the extended family, sooner or later, someone is bound to bring up some uncomfortable conversations that can ruin the joyous mood the holiday is supposed to highlight. So then how exactly do you deal with toxic members of your family?
1. Don’t take anything they say personally
This is possibly going to be the hardest thing you’ll have to do, but in the long run, not taking your family’s comments to heart will actually do you good. At the end of the day, they are your family and they’re probably not going to have a sense of boundary, especially yours. This means that all the unsolicited advice they give is “for your own good.” It’s not right and they might know the pain they are causing you, but sometimes, it’s best to just nod your head and move on. It’s going to suck and you obviously know what is best for you, but for the sake of keeping the peace, just take it one ear and let it out the other.
2. Don’t hesitate to just walk away
Sometimes, it’s better to just walk away rather than say something you think you’ll regret. You don’t have to listen to someone’s negativity, even if that person is a family member. While some might advise to just “suck it up” or “grin and take it”, you deserve better. When you walk away from the person who is spewing toxicity your way, it shows that you do care about yourself and refuse to let anyone bring you down. Maybe initiate a conversation with someone you do like or grab yourself something to eat. If you don’t think you can just walk away, try some blunt but respectful conversation stoppers.
3. Have that one person you can vent to
Keeping up all your frustration bottled up can only hurt you both physically and mentally. After all, families can make a lot of things more difficult than it needs to be. So find someone close to you who is aware of what your family is like or whom you’re close to and vent to them. The catharsis will not only help you release that anger, but it can also help clear your mind so that you can go back to dealing with those toxic members better. It will also give you the chance to throw away all your own negativity before interacting with other people.
4. Connect with the one family member that understands you
Sometimes, having someone from the same family who feels the same way can be a great help. If you just don’t have the energy to work through all the toxicity headed your way, look for that family member who you connect to the best, the one who understands what you’re going through. Whether it’s a partner, a grandparent or a sibling, they’ll be able to deal better with the drama and in a way, you’d also be helping them vent their own frustrations. It might even deepen the bond between you two.
5. Just stay quiet and watch the drama
As tough as it may seem, sometimes just shutting up and watching the drama unfold can be a stress-buster. Even eating while it happens can be great. While holidays are the time meant for having good conversations and enjoying each other’s company, it’s not always like that. Remove yourself from the conversation and if someone tries to talk to you, someone you know who is usually negative and believes that it’s okay to spread it, just shovel food into your mouth. Nods can also keep yourself from interacting too much with someone. Indifference is quite a powerful weapon in these situations.
6. Always have an escape route
If you think that it’s just getting way too much for you to deal with, have an escape route ready. Whether it’s asking a friend to keep their phone ready to inform you of a fake emergency or an event that you absolutely need to attend, keep that Plan B available. Because in the end, you need to take care of your own mental health and with so many things already weighing down on you, there’s only so much you can handle.
So this holiday, enjoy the love with those who truly care about you and respect you. And do your best to ignore or deal with those whose negativity will tear you down. Happy holidays!
Disclaimer: This article is based on insights from different sources. The views expressed here are those of the writer.