The Holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer and good will. However, we all have people in our lives that challenge us. I certainly have family members that challenge me!
So when a client of mine asked about how to deal with difficult family over the holidays I was excited to share my method of staying happy - independent of having to control my environment and the people in it!
We don't necessarily want to spend time with some people over the holidays - we feel obligated. We also have some pre-conceived ideas of 'how it should be' - which only adds pressure! We have these relationships as a result of years of history and we stay focused on what we don't like - understandably. It's a perfect set-up to feel stressed out!
So "Aunt Mary" is a loud mouthed, opinionated, pain in the a**. Everyone knows it. It's so irritating. She's constantly saying inappropriate things. When you walk into the room with Aunt Mary - you're looking for it, you're expecting it, you're cringing because of it, tense and tight waiting for her to start. True to your expectation - she begins. Maybe she gives slobbery kisses also. That makes you feel helpless and stuck with her craziness.
What if you could start to understand that you can't change Aunt Mary, that's just who she is (letting go of right and wrong). Something happened to aunt Mary to create this strange annoying person. It's not personal - she's like this with everyone.
That doesn't mean that you have to 'put up with' all of crazy Aunt Mary's behavior. What if you just stated your boundary without resistance to who she is. Aunt Mary - please don't kiss me. What if you allowed yourself to walk away instead of having to be polite and suck it up. Or take breaks in your mind without having to make her wrong. It's just who she is, maybe she only knows how to engage on this level...
One of my favorite thoughts when I'm around someone that I don't find easy to love is I need nothing from you, I want everything for you.
It takes away the burden of having to agree with someone or like them. They are who they are, you are who you are. Your survival is not dependent on the relationship (because you're not a helpless child anymore). The interesting thing is when you stop pushing against something, it stops pushing against you. (Seriously - it feels like magic when it happens!)
So here is the practice simplified to get you through the next month:
1) Accept that this is who this person is - don't personalize their behavior. They were like this long before you showed up and will likely remain this way. That's ok!
2) If you can't enjoy their oddness then either walk away physically or mentally when it's feeling too much - do this without judging yourself or them. Just not your person. You don't have to like everybody!
3) Honor the idea and use as your mantra - I need nothing from you, I want everything for you.
Hope that this year your holidays are more wonderful than you can imagine!