Surviving the Holidays Around Difficult People – Whether it’s partners, kids, extended family, or friends, the holidays can offer opportunities for relationships to be challenged. Maybe there are a lot of tense relationships in your family dynamic that make celebrating holidays more difficult and a little less enjoyable. You are not alone in feeling this way and all is not lost. It is still entirely possible to have a fun, memorable holiday season.
Connecting with people who challenge you is a lot like taking a master class in college.
It teaches you to grow in unexpected ways.
First, I’d like you to consider, why do other people’s behavior have such an impact on you? When I cared for my newborn children, my first instinct was to do everything I could to make sure their needs were met so they were happy. I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible by keeping their tummies full, and their bottoms dry, and snuggling them to sleep. As little ones, we rely on our caretakers to take care of our happiness. I think we all know, the happier baby is, the happier everyone is.
Then we get older and are told that we need to apologize for hurting our sibling’s feelings. Compassion for others is a great skill to develop when we’re growing into kind, polite, caring humans. However, it also leads us to believe that we have control over others’ feelings and they have control over ours. This is simply not true. Did you know that you get to choose how you want to feel, regardless of how others are acting around us?
No one has the power to make you feel a certain way.
What they say may indeed be hurtful if we believe even 2% of what they said to be true, but that’s because we gave those words meaning about ourselves that caused us, in a split second to think, “Maybe they’re right.” It’s the natural human condition to do this, however, it leaves us thinking we are powerless to do anything about it.
It’s hard to accept that someone else’s behavior has no effect on how you feel because this means it is up to you to do the hard work of managing your own emotions. The good news is, that when you take accountability for your feelings, you don’t have to wait for the other person to change to feel better. Hold on to your power. Remind yourself, “I’m choosing to feel (angry, frustrated, and resentful) right now.” This small shift in words gives you a big shift in power.
How to decide when to manage your thoughts vs. when to walk away from the relationship?
What if the other person is emotionally abusive? I’m not suggesting that you can’t choose who you will or won’t be around. You can choose to leave the room whenever you need to. Setting proper boundaries means that you choose what you will do out of love and respect for yourself without expecting the other person to change. You get to be who you want, and they get to show up how they want.
When this person is around, how do you show up?
Pay close attention to how you are acting towards yourself and the offender. Are you somehow mirroring their behavior or are you acting out of love, respect, and care for yourself and them? To determine if you are mirroring, ask yourself, “How am I feeling?” If you are feeling any kind of negative emotion, ask yourself, “What am I thinking to feel this way?” If it’s, “he shouldn’t be acting this way.” Why not? It’s good to know. Are you being judgmental or rude back? Are you talking about them behind their back? If you are mirroring or showing up differently than how you want, remind yourself that you’re choosing to feel that way. You decide if it would be protecting you and showing love and respect for you if you were to leave. Trust yourself to make the decision that’s right for you.
Last, can you find compassion by attempting to look through their lens? We each have a different set of lenses that we view life through based on our past experiences. When someone is acting like a victim or is trying to be manipulative, backbite, or passive-aggressive, it is because they are insecure and in some way are not meeting their own needs. What worries them? What do you think keeps them up at night? They get to act how they want, but that doesn’t mean they get to choose the consequences. What has them so afraid to be acting this way?
When you choose compassion, the upside is you are the one who feels compassion.
No matter how angry, hurt, or resentful you feel, you are choosing to feel that, which is completely your right. However, those feelings don’t bounce into the offender. They stick with you and you are the one left feeling it. Out of love for yourself, choose to feel compassion.
How powerful would it feel to stay in control and show up exactly how you want, regardless of how someone else is acting?
Difficult people have become a gift that I wasn’t expecting, but each day they are teaching me a little more about myself and who I want to be as I show up in this world. May your holidays be fun, safe, and enlightening!
Connect with Amber: https://taplink.cc/myinnerlove.com