DifficuIt Family

Hard as we try to avoid them, sometimes we must confront difficult people and tricky social situations, maybe even at a holiday dinner. To insist on thinking that a reasonable person can overcome any and all obstacles, making all parties equally happy is to sacrifice your self-esteem, because the reality is that sometimes there is nothing you can do to make everyone happy. Holiday time will bring family together, and sadly old conflicts could also come up.

Hiding from conflict doesn’t help. Sitting in the background, keeping quiet, staying out of the way, is not going to solve anything. Instead, passively withdrawing from interaction is likely to backfire with an angry outburst that can be aggressive, leaving you feeling victimized and everyone involved with hurt feelings, making already strained relationships even weaker.

Aggressiveness can vary from disrespectful, manipulative, or demeaning, to abusive. Aggressive people need to win, and fail to look at things from another persons point of view. While being aggressive, a person wants to win, retaliating for perceived wrongs, and creating unnecessary conflict. In the wake of aggressive conflicts, relationships are left damaged, everyone involved feels like a victim, and any social support that may have existed is lost.

The better way is to follow a balanced path of being open and honest about your feeling in a non-judgmental way. Don’t try to change the behavior of others, but limit how their behavior effects you, by calmly and assertively expressing how you feel without engaging in a power struggle, or getting defensive. Sometimes a distraction, like excusing yourself to go to the bathroom, is very effective for interrupting any conversation that you need to get out of politely. Other distractions include offering to get beverages or snacks, or checking on what the children might be up to so quietly in the other room. Stay calm, and don’t rise to the bait that is offered.

When you are hit hard by disrespectful and abusive treatment, it is how your judge yourself that counts. If you know you are a good and loving person, who is competent and worthy of respect, then you have good self-esteem. Having good self-esteem will allow you to bounce back from difficult encounters with others, and will help you to treat yourself respectfully. As you treat yourself respectfully, others will also treat you with greater respect.

Communicating with assertiveness, will lead to fewer conflicts, help you build strong supportive relationships, and lead to less stress not only during the holidays, but throughout the year. Make a plan and be ready to act.

15 thoughts on “DifficuIt Family

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  1. Reblogged this on Takeshi's Flight and commented:
    I have been experiencing the scenarios stated in this tiny piece. My relatives were not so close to us, because apparently, most of them are so aggressive and desperate over the family’s distribution of wealth. This essay brings out a piece of advice that I surely can apply with our situation today.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like your optimism, April. I wish I could look forward to the holidays and enforced family time. Maybe if family time was ONLY at the holidays and not every other weekend. 😒


  3. A very wise woman gave me great advice on this topic… Instead of feeding the crazy (my term!), respond with very neutral words and then redirect the conversation or walk away. Instead of engaging, respond with ‘Oh’, ‘Wow!’, ‘Interesting…’, Really?’

    Try this out and you will be AMAZED at how quickly they’ll go find someone else to spout off to. When you don’t enable the behavior, they’ll seek out someone else who will 😉

    Love that you’re living your life in balance! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree that you must have the confidence to express how you feel and move on. I relate very well to this, not in my family but at work. It’s tough when they won’t stop. The battle for sanity continues….


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