Drama-Free Holidays

Welcome to Tuesday’s Tips, the one-day a week when I break the format of answering your questions and I dispense useful, actionable and empowering tips!

Today I’m talking about how to minimize holiday family drama.  Nothing creates stress like bringing adult siblings together under one roof. It’s the same set of characters with the same issues, most of which haven’t been worked out in therapy, and the universal familial hope is that this perfect storm will somehow pass over without any bloodshed. Naïve? I’ll say. As someone who has 4 siblings and is the common denominator between 2 families, I know a thing or two about family drama ~ particularly sibling drama.  Below is a guide to get you through January without regressing to the developmental level of your 15 year-old self:

Accept the things you cannot change. Let’s face it ~ they haven’t changed. They are the same people who nearly drowned you in the pool, who took your parents’ side during fights and who pretended not to know you on the first day of school. Their role in the family has not changed despite the fact that their waste line, and hairline, likely have.  Allow them to be who they are. They will provoke, whether it’s through indifference or veiled hostility. Do not respond.  And do not expect them to be any different than they’ve been in the past. They are who they are.  You probably know them better than their spouses do.

Change the things you can. You do not have to play the same role that you’ve played throughout your life. We can’t change others, but we ourselves can change. No one likes to hear this. We want others to change so we won’t have to.  Thankfully it doesn’t work that way otherwise we’d all be emotionally stagnant. Grab your ovaries or your male-equivalent thereof and commit to playing a different role.  If you’re easily provoked or hurt, play the role of someone who is less astute, less aware of slights, and dial up your indifference.  That’s right: Less smart + More indifference = Less sensitive.  Focus on what you want. Set your intention for the night and get through it like the respected adult you’ve become. Do not allow the familial energy to transform you into your less-evolved self. Remain constant, regardless of whose company you are in. Focus on people who bring you joy. Find someone who can speak to a topic that you are genuinely interested in and let that energy carry you through the meal.

Know when to stay in a hotel. I don’t really understand why family members attempt to hunker down with one another unless it’s in different rooms of a hotel. Among the most naïve holiday behaviors, this is number one.  Unless you’re college-aged (or younger), crashing with family is a recipe for disaster. You know why. Do I really need to go through the litany of potential triggers that are likely to ignite the very implosion you’re trying to avoid? Please don’t tell me that it’s too expensive. Commit to no Starbucks for January and you’ll have amassed enough in savings to afford your own space.  If peace is your priority, than take the actions necessary to ensure it. You’ll thank me for it.