I admit it there was a long period of time in my life where I hated Christmas because it was all too hard.
Xmas time in a standard nuclear family is hard enough but in a blended family it takes a whole new meaning. Apart from the usual stresses, there are timetables with ex-wives and ex- husbands to negotiate as well as extended family. I would actually have heart palpitations as Xmas drew closer.
For some people, there is the added stress of catching up with family members that they do not actually like on the big day itself.
So, what to do when the big day arrives and you are surrounded by family members that you do not actually like.
Here are some strategies that definitely DO NOT work:
The “I’m going to anaesthetise myself” strategy
No surprises here, self medication with alcohol to cope with any stressful situation will only end in tears. Next year is only going to be much more uncomfortable. It also negates the ability for a quick get away should things get really ordinary.
The “I’m so popular / busy that I can’t get away from my phone or iPad” Strategy
Even though you may be despising every moment, knowing that you will never get this time back, burying your face into your phone with thumbs working furiously will only lead to increased negativity from those around you. Be in the moment and treat it like a business meeting at work. You don’t need to love it, you just need to engage.
Here are a few options that WILL work for you:
The “suck it up princess” or “put on your big girls panties” strategy
Remind yourself that this is just 1 day out of 365. You are above any feelings of negativity and are strong enough to put them to one side for at least a few hours.
Make the most of it. Find someone you do like (even a little bit) and stick with them for as much time as possible.
The “make yourself useful” strategy
Give a helping hand to the hosts with serving food and cleaning up which limits the time you spend talking with people you have no interest in.
The “going away” strategy
Book a holiday so that you are not able to attend the party. Your guests will totally understand your absence.
This is a strategy that you will find empowering as you are in control of your day and you have decided to spend it with people you care for, on your terms.
My personal favourite “tender disregard” strategy
This simple, yet powerful strategy has changed my life and when I teach it to my clients, they absolutely love it, especially for over controlling in-laws. This strategy is about responding to comments you would normally regard as ‘hurtful’ or ‘annoying’ by ‘disregarding them in a tender way’.
No aggression, No rudeness. An example of how tender disregard can be used.
Sister in-law: “We never get to see Craig ever since he married you”
Tender Disregard Response: “You must really miss him being around. Hopefully life will get less hectic for all of us soon” and then…change the topic.
Easy! And no one gets hurt along the way.