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Toxic Family Members: Handle With (Self) Care


Holidays are great and all, but what about the relative(s) that you don’t want to see? You can choose to avoid them completely, or if you’re stuck being around them because you don’t want to skip a gathering entirely, you have to handle them in small doses. I’m in the second category. Anyone else? Raise your hand then keep reading.

I get that this happens year-round. I have a whole side of my family that I don’t see because of this topic and, well, that’s not entirely heartbreaking. I talk to one cousin on that side, Bethani. I’m a decade older than her, but we have a blast talking. She’s super smart and I’m really proud of her. Our Twitter chats are EPIC.

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How does one handle toxic family members? With (self) care. In my case, I have to do this sober- yuck.

Every family has their issues and the holidays tend to bring out the worst. What can you do?

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I GOT NEW RULES, I COUNT ‘EM

(Many thanks to Dua Lipa, from “New Rules”. If you’re familiar with the song, read the list to the tempo of the song as an added bonus.)

One: Set boundaries and stick to them. Whatever and whoever it is that bothers you, write it down, make a list on your phone.. do what you need to create boundaries. If you need to, set a time to show up and leave. Everyone has limits on what they can and can’t deal with. If people can’t deal, then they need to look at themselves and think about why they can’t respect your needs. If you don’t drink, or only want so many, don’t hesitate to turn down the drinks at the party. Same with food, if you’re watching what you eat.

Two: Take a time-out. This can be from a person or the whole gathering. Take a short break outside, if the weather is okay, or just go to a quieter area, if possible. Holiday gatherings can get loud, noisy and somewhat overwhelming. It’s okay to need a break.

Three: Remember that their issues are not your fault. This is incredibly important to remember. You cannot take on someone else’s issues. Everyone has to take control of their own life, in one way or another. You cannot fix them, but can possibly be there when they are in a better place to work things out.

Four: Know the topics that may trigger issues and that some topics are just off limits. Some people do not have the ability to discuss certain topics without things going rapidly downhill- politics, sometimes sports, children, old issues, etc. If you know those are bad topics, don’t go there. If someone you have issues with brings it up, tell them you’d rather not discuss it and change the topic.

Five: Remember that YOUR wellbeing comes first. It’s not fun to be stressed out during the holidays, or any other time of the year. Take time for yourself before and after holiday gatherings to de-stress. It is worth it and so are you.

May your holiday gatherings be fun and drama/fight-free. Eat great food and have some laughs!

Leave some comments about how your gatherings went- did they go well?

Information courtesy of Psychology Today

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Pictures courtesy of Unsplash

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