For a lot of people holiday time = family time which in theory SOUNDS great, but in practise can spark something that feels more like grinding resentment rather than joy. You know how some people just know how to push your buttons? Your family INVENTED those buttons, so of course being together enmasse after time apart can occasionally feel like trigger-city.
Everyone (hopefully) arrives with the best intentions, but one thing can lead to another and before you know it it’s raised tones and pass-agg galore. It’s not as though people are plotting ways to kill the vibe on the car ride there, but unfortunately some blow-ups just come straight out of the leftfield. If you’re trying to avoid decking the halls with burning fury this year, use this cheat sheet for how to side-step a festive family showdown.
Try really, really hard to see it as a learning opportunity
Ever heard the phrase “water finds its own level”? That’s kind of how life works. We all seek out people who think, live, even earn like us, and it creates this gorgeous feedback loop where everyone is on the same page, living side-by-side in harmony. It’s great, but it’s not real life. It’s not quite so easy to feel zen when you’re staring down the barrel of confrontingly opposing views. Different opinions can cause you to consider a new perspective, or drive you to a glass of wine. Both help.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Look, if you KNOW you have a deeply homophobic aunt who won’t stop asking you why you don’t have a boyfriend when she knows full well it’s because you have a girlfriend, take some time to prepare yourself for this in the lead-up. Ask an ally in your family to back you up, take 5 to use a mindful meditation app, prepare a witty comeback if you feel able to deliver a zinger, whatever helps diffuse the situation and keeps you calm, give it a whirl.
Use the 2 second rule
When feeling attacked, it’s only natural to go immediately on the defence, but you don’t actually have to do that. Imagine your uncle has just said something wildly inappropriate, or your dad has commented AGAIN on your career choice, and then imagine breathing in and waiting just 2 seconds. In the pause between thinking and speaking, your neurons make the crucial jump from the amygdala AKA the fear center of the brain, which processes stimuli like a hormonal teenager, to the more evolved and sophisticated part of the brain. The result? A cool, calm, collected answer, leaving them looking, frankly, like arseholes.
It’s okay to walk away
All jokes aside, some family tension is more serious than others. Family is important, yes, but not at the expense of your mental health. Painful comments on sexuality or weight, being misgendered or feeling retraumatised from past events are all unbelievably valid reasons to get your shit and hit the highway. You should never have to apologise for being you, and anyone who makes you feel otherwise doesn’t deserve your holiday cheer this year.
Have a good one babes, stay sane out there.
Article Image Credit @pernilleteisbaek
Article written by Ianthe Jacob