How to Navigate This Year's Family Holiday Gatherning

by - December 11, 2017

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Family holiday gatherings, cringe-worthy reunions with distant relatives or perhaps the long-anticipated meet up with the future in-laws? A bit too much weak wine and overcooked turkey, high-pitched laughter, wrapping paper flying everywhere and the occasional awkward conversation. But there is also the joy that electrifies the air, brings a wide grin on your face and reminds you that you are not alone. It's the gathering of the year and let's face it, missing it would be so out of question (though we'd probably have mixed feelings of happy and sad if we did!). We have to be there. But for that reason we need to be prepared - family gatherings can bring tons of fun and equal amounts of frustration. It's absolutely normal - you are all different, even in a family, everyone's unique, having their own views and quirks, and getting along is not always guaranteed. The trick is to adopt the right state of mind and follow it consistently with the right set of tools. 

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Remember, you can't control other people's opinions and responses, but you can control your reaction. Do your best not to take everything they do or say personally. Criticism comes more naturally to some and others take it deeper to heart. Holidays are stressful times for everyone and sometimes people say the wrong thing - they might be having a bad day (even though it's Christmas!)or often reflect their own insecurities. It might not have anything to do with you as a person. Smile and let it go. But if you feel like you're being misunderstood, make sure to take a deep breath and once composed, feel free to express your point.

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This one is a key to any kind of meeting. Emotions can flare-up easily and end up guiding our interactions. And while we are emotional beings, we should not let our feelings take a toll on us. When you sense the emotion inkling you to blurt out everything on your mind, repeat a relaxing breathing technique, think of your happy peaceful place, or count to ten in your head - whatever works for you, just make sure you are the one doing the talking, not your righteous anger! I firmly believe that we have to stand up for ourselves and not let others intimidate us. The myth of keeping quiet for the sake of harmonious dynamics can only do so little - at one point you'll get tired of hoping that others will finally know better and then the situation risks getting even more heated. It doesn't mean that you'll change their minds, but you owe it to yourself to learn to stand your ground.

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If you don't find it worth the effort standing up to your aunt who always has something to say about your personal life, don't worry, you can always try deflecting - it works like magic. Just breezily change the subject and ask her how she's doing instead. It gives you the opportunity to direct the attention towards them. Most people don't mind to be in the center of the conversation, so they would gladly take the focus from you. Then actively listen to what they're saying and offer them some follow-up questions. Before you know it, someone else will join the conversation and you can use this chance to change the topic to something, let's say... a bit more neutral. 


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It's easy to feel upset when our closest ones don't understand our life choices or somehow don't want to accept and support us in our growth as adults. It's a slippery slope, we start to doubt ourselves more and the 'failure alarm' signals again. Know yourself and believe in what you have achieved so far, no matter how insignificant it might seem to you at this moment. Even the people who love us can't always see our life through our eyes. They might not really grasp the extent of your struggles, so don't let it discourage you from following your chosen path and be who you are - brilliant and flawed. Keep being kind to yourself even when others might not be.

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At the end of the day, be patient with yourself and with those around you. Getting along well sometimes is a learning curve - you have to keep trying. Your family loves you for who you are, even if they keep telling you about all the things they want you to be. You are still there and they are still there, the rest you can work out with time. Take a moment to thank them for who they are. Resentment will not make you feel better in the long term and avoiding future holiday encounters will only harbour those negative feelings. And for those of you who step into the heavily guarded territory of the family of your significant other, you can only be yourself. Try being understanding and patient (within reasonable limits, of course) that they'll eventually open up to you. Don't fall into the trap of overthinking whether they like you or not - deep down you know that it doesn't really matter if they do. You can't make everyone like you and you don't have to try hard, just make sure you like yourself.

What are your family holiday gatherings like? Share your stories with us on social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Bloglovin') or in the comment section below! We'd love to hear from you!

Inner Quiet is all about you. We will tackle the thoughts and fears of living in a world that keeps going even when you feel that you need a break. When a stressful life wraps you in its claws with no-way-out, we will try to show you another possibility, another solution, another way. No matter what you do or what you want to see yourself doing, we want to help you to shine through you. To be a human is hard enough without the constant pressure of being perfect and in this day and age we might feel it's impossible to live free of self-imposed constraints and others' expectations. Let's prove it wrong.

Previously on Inner Quiet - Is Our Need to Control Healthy and Can We Change?

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