How to keep your cool around your family

In Blog by Celine Redfield1 Comment

holiday-stress “Unfortunately, some family members are so psychotic that no matter how hard you try to forge a healthy relationship, nothing will help. Now that you’re an adult, take refuge in the fact that some things are beyond your control. You owe it to yourself to steer clear of people who are harmful to your health.”
~Andrea Lavinthal

It is that time of year again. The one where you see your family, multiple times in a several week period. Whether you love or hate your family, unless your estranged from them, they can be a challenge to be around. I like to say that: Family installed our buttons, so they are the best at pushing them. So that you can keep your cool and feel sane, I have complied 5 ways to thrive through seeing your family this holiday season:

1) Set a time limit.

This step can help save you pain and suffering. Personally, I know that for family functions I can stay about 3 to 4 hours. And then for those family members who live out of town, I have a 3-4 day limit. I try to follow the Benjamin Franklin quote, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.”

By knowing what your time limits are with your family you can refrain from lashing out at them, or internalize things they say, because you are listening to yourself. This self-care action allows you to be kind, loving and your best self around them. Transforming your time with your family into a more positive experience instead of dreading it.

2) Take breaks when your feeling triggered
When someone pisses you off, take a cooling off period. Excuse yourself from the table, go for a walk, go to the bathroom for alone time. Try alternate nostril breathing to bring you back into your body.  inner-gateUse this acupressure point P6- Inner Gate to help with anger, shock, exhaustion, feeling unsettled, nausea and for an upset stomach. Hold this point for 30 seconds on each wrist and take deep breaths releasing your emotion. Take a self compassion break, which I taught in last weeks post.  Then return to your family.

3) Try not taking what they say personal.

Many times when people are unkind to you what they are saying are just projections of how they view themselves. I know that it is difficult to not take this personally. You are totally allowed to have whatever feelings that you need to around what they say or do to you. What I do suggest is that you sit with your feelings and acknowledge them instead of taking the eye for an eye approach and hurting them back. Use the suggestions that are in the second step of this article to help manage reactivity. When your time with family is over, process the situation with a trusted friend or a mental health professional. Treat yourself with kindness and acknowledge the hurt so that you do not displace it on someone else.
4) Try using compassion towards yourself and the person you are having an issue with.
I know that the hardest thing to do when someone is continually pushing your buttons . Anger and reactivity is like a fire that is out of control. By using anger and reactivity to  stoke the fire that is already burning that then you’re perpetuating the same cycle that was originally dished out to you.  To break the cycle try this instead: when someone hurts you, internally tell yourself, “That hurt.” Then step away from the situation. When you are alone acknowledge that this person must be hurting as well. Try to practice forgiveness and understanding for the person. Have compassion for the suffering that you both are experiencing. By pausing and acknowledging the hurt you are transforming the cycle of suffering. You make it end because you are not engaging in the same behavior, the suffering ends with you.

5) Stop engaging with the person who is hurtful to you.

If someone in your family is continually unkind or abusive to, you are always aloud to no longer invite them into your life. As adults we get to choose who are family is and who we engage with. That is the wonderful thing about being an adult, we are no longer beholden to our families. We can choose if they are healthy for us to have a relationship with.

Personally, I have stopped talking to parts of my family because they were no longer enriching my life and having a relationship with them was causing me suffering. It was a very difficult choice to make but in retrospect I am glad that I made it. I still think of them, miss them and send them well wishes, but I love them from a far.

This is a personal decision that you have to make to care for yourself and your well being. To make this decision I suggest that you talk to a trusted friend, mentor or mental health professional. Remember we create the lives that we live. We deserve to have people that love, support and add to our lives.

I wish you all a beautiful, Kwanzaa, Chanukah and Christmas. May it be full of light and magic. Until next week, may you have a beautiful week.




  1. Great insight about family triggers Merry Christmas to us all and are families of choice

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