December 15, 2021

Surviving Christmas with “Toxic” Family—the Mindful Way.


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So you can’t get away from the obligation of having all the family together on Christmas Day.

The one day of the year when you more or less have to consider spending time with all the family. It’s sometimes pretty much unavoidable.

Your mother always complains and is never happy with anything you do. Your brother thinks the best part of the day is to poke fun at you and use your flaws as an excuse for humor. Your family is toxic but you have to survive one day with them.

These are my tips to help you get through Christmas Day with a “toxic” family and pretty much what I’ll be doing, too.

1. Find a common ground.

I’m gritting my teeth and thinking to myself, “It’s only one day out of the whole year. I can do this!”

Firstly, let’s think the family hasn’t gotten together for quite a while, so there may be some things we all need to catch up on. The question is, what do you do when you’re being judged, scrutinised for how far you have come in your life, and then have to explain to people that you just don’t see eye to eye with them?

Let’s find some common ground. Let’s genuinely make an effort to create small talk, to try to figure out if we do really have something in common to talk about that won’t lead to an argument. Ask basic questions and get to know a sibling or parent all over again. Maybe we don’t know them in the same way we knew them previously. Maybe they’ve evolved and their mindset is in another space that we can relate to and get along with.

Ask questions such as, “What are your plans for next year? What are you most proud of this year that you’ve accomplished?” A question that’s positive and revolves around them is surely bound to create a positive answer, or so we hope. Let’s get to know them all over again. We might have a similarity that we can bond with.

2. Take the time to break away during the day.

This one I will literally be doing, as it’s completely necessary for me to escape to another room outside, away from the family gathering in the house, for a few moments during the day.

I cannot imagine myself sitting down all day with my family. For me, that is testing my patience and is honestly quite boring.

I think it’s necessary to excuse yourself and break away for periods throughout Christmas Day to recollect your energy, protect your energy, and give yourself another probably much-needed pep talk to gather your strength to carry on throughout the day.

If you have a family member who is a chronic moaner, then you are best advised to do this because it’s absolutely so draining to hear someone constantly nitpick and be negative about situations in their life. If you’re healthy and you’ve lived another day, you’re the luckiest person in the world in my eyes.

The best way to gather your thoughts and give yourself fresh air or space to mentally group yourself together is by telling yourself, “It’s only one day that I have to get through this.” Be positive, think positive thoughts, and even be grateful for your family, and try to think of the tiniest good things about them. So when you do go back into the house—into the room where the festivities are taking place, you walk in with positive vibration that is untouchable. After all, gratitude is the route to happiness.

3. Don’t take everything so seriously.

This is the part where you need to bring out your inner warrior. Your patience has to be absolutely up there and everything that is mocked, judged, or laughed at about you can go through one ear and out the other.

When a family member thinks it’s funny or entertaining to knock you down by making sly remarks or laughing at your expense, then the best way to deal with that is by not reacting. Don’t flinch; don’t even think about stooping to that low level. That is not you.

Remind yourself again that this is just one day that you have to get through, for Christmas Day.

If you react to every silly comment made by someone trying to get a reaction out of you, you’re then going to escalate the situation and make the day horrible for yourself and you’ll even feel sh*tty afterward.

Instead, gather your inner warrior, f*ck the toxicity, and enjoy your day. Shake the comment off. Remember, no one has the right to judge whether you’re married or not and why, or whether you’re in a sh*tty job when you aren’t. People’s opinions about you are often an attempt to boost their own ego, and it’s often not worth your peace.

Look for the goodness in the day and think about yourself.

Eat, watch a great movie, drink, and just put a smile on your face till the moment you walk out that door and go home.

Until you see them next year.

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