Getting closer to the holidays, more often than not we have to spend more time with our family members. That old saying of “you can pick your friends, but not your family” rings true for many, and unfortunately this goes especially for when you’re forced to spend time with relatives that are really no good for you.
When there’s a toxic friendship in our lives, we can usually drop them like a bad habit and never have to worry about them again. But what about our family members that we see time and time again? Do you just stop being a family? Hopefully, this isn’t the case, but sometimes regardless of the circumstance, you need to cut out people from your life when it comes to a matter of your own mental and physical health…or sometimes even your safety!
The following 8 suggestions are various ways you can deal with your toxic relatives as you prepare for extended visits with each of them for the holidays.
1) Surround Yourself With Positive People: If you do have to tolerate that one Negative Nancy you have in your family, it’s far easier to do this when you surround yourself with more positive people in your daily life. Stick to your happier cousins, sisters, or whoever it is at family gatherings that brings you joy. If this is someone’s household pet, perhaps they’ll make better company than your crazy negative aunt.
2) Don’t Neglect Yourself: Sometimes we have that one relative that does their best to make you feel ignored or wishing you weren’t there. Great! The feeling is mutual! Do yourself a favor and pamper yourself. You have needs too, and this doesn’t mean that this toxic person gets to have control over you. You do you. Don’t care about anything else.
3) Stand Up For Yourself: Everyone’s allowed their own opinion, but that doesn’t mean you have to take it. Are you gay and you have religious relatives that disapprove? Are you unemployed and seeking a job you enjoy, but this doesn’t look too good with your Stepfather? Are you dating someone that you’re madly in love with, but your crazy uncle seems to dislike? Does your Aunt hate what you’re wearing? So what! You don’t owe these people any explanations or apologies for you being yourself. If anyone gives you any guff, stand your ground. It’ll be far more enjoyable for you to be proud of yourself, instead of apologizing hoping not to hurt anyone’s feelings.
4) Forgive But Don’t Forget: Sometimes toxic family members can do and say things that are extremely hurtful without them even realizing it. Instead of letting this anger you, or letting your feelings fester inside, immediately choose to forgive them, but never forget how they make you feel. When the time comes, perhaps you can explain to them what they’ve done to hurt you, but it’s best to let things go and enjoy you.
5) Do Something For Yourself: A really great way to show your toxic relatives that you no longer care for their behavior is to do something for yourself instead. We aren’t suggesting you avoid every social or family gathering, but rather, you prioritize your own time and desires. Perhaps a tropical vacation away from family is all you need for them to realize how much they miss you? Or, make it clear that you have other things to worry about then give them your devoted time and attention. Make a classic entrance, then leave when you feel like it for other plans.
6) You Win More Bees With Honey: Chances are if you feel a certain way about a family member, that others feel the exact same way as you. Kill them with kindness. Don’t let any negativity or hostility win over. Others will see your patience and understanding and appreciate you for it. Nobody likes a fight and perhaps someone well-intentioned could purify even the most toxic of people.
7) Focus On Those You Love: If you’re fearful about spending time with a certain relative, think instead about spending time with the relatives that you truly want to see instead. Just because your Aunt is a miserable bag of blah doesn’t mean your cousins are. Chances are they’re looking for an escape from her too. Plan a special family gathering with those you DO care about!
8) When In Doubt, Cut Them Out: It’s an unfortunate reality that sometimes we have to cut out those people who are toxic to us, even if that means cutting out our very family. At the end of the day, your personal well being is most important. If your relative’s toxic behaviors are unsafe for you or your loved ones, perhaps it’s time to get the authorities involved. Maybe excluding a certain relative from your life will help them reprioritize what’s important to them — being a miserable toxic person or being a positive loving role model. All in all, you’re the one that matters in this, so follow your heart as to what brings you joy.