Thursday, November 15, 2012

Surviving the holidays - Dysfunctional Style

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Dysfunctional OCD Mom, Tipsy Dad, Racist Grandpa and Over Critical Grandmom drive you crazy on a normal day? Trying to put them all in one room during a holiday!

You can spend years and good money in therapy.. within 15 minutes of a holiday reunion, you are right back to square one.

Your confidence and patience go right out the window when your 30 year old sister throws a temper tantrum or your nephew tells inappropriate dirty jokes at the dinner table.

So What To Do??

First: Give up the expectation that families are perfect and the holiday is going to be perfect.  Be prepared to accept them for who they are.  This doesn't give them license to misbehave.  In fact, if you calmly talk about what you expect from them, they may surprise you and change their behavior.

Second:  Are there certain relatives that you cannot tolerate?  If you have to spend the holiday among the intolerable, create a plan.  Decide if you are spending one, maybe two hours with them.  Decide if it is worth putting yourself in that situation.

***Or you could always get a friend to call you 1/2 way through the event with a disastrous event that you have to go attend to.

Third: Have you been deeply hurt by your family? Still searching for kindness from your mother, approval from your father?  But no matter how hard you try, you cannot please them.  STOP! You will never be able to control their thoughts or feelings.  Don't waste your energy trying to make them something they will never be!

Fourth and most important: After a holiday reunion, call a friend who totally 'gets' you and decompress!  You need to get the frustration out. Talk, talk, talk.

**It is always refreshing to mimic your dysfunctional family members to your friends.  Laughter, after all, is the best medicine.

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