5 ways to survive the family fall-out this Christmas
December 17, 2014
Christmas is a time of joy, celebration and cheer - or it should be.
Unfortunately, many families are dysfunctional in nature and Christmas only highlights this dysfunction further, in some cases lighting it up in Vegas-style neon!
If you are a member of one of those families, you may not even realize it. You may be in denial and refuse to acknowledge your dysfunction. If that's the case, you've probably stopped reading at this point.
Good. You may just be about to be saved.
First you need to know what dysfunction is and how each of your family members plays a role it it.
A dysfunctional family is described as being "a family in which conflict, misbehaviour, and often child neglect or abuse on the part of individual parents occur continually and regularly, leading other members to accommodate such actions."
A quick Google search will tell you more.
In order for this dysfunction to play out, everyone in the family assumes a role they aren't aware of. Sounds like a party game huh? Well, it is. Except that this is a game most of us don't want to play. It's uncomfortable, upsetting and unhealthy - especially at Christmas time when we can feel forced to be nice.
Here are the roles a typical dysfunctional family play, courtesy of Dysfunky.org:
We all can recognize the hero, scapegoat, mascot and invisible one. One of them might even be you! You can read more about them here, courtesy of Dysfunky.org.
So who are you and how do you survive the family Christmas?
1. Be honest with who you are and what role you play.
This is a hard one. It's gonna require you to take a long hard look in the mirror and face what may be years of struggle and pain. No fun for sure, but VERY necessary in making that first step to survival.
2. Recognize which roles your family members play.
Not only that, understand what they be feeling, what they have been going through and what they need right now. Most people just want to be loved, and in turn, want to be able to receive love. Think about how often you and your family show each other love. Does the answer surprise or startle you?
3. Give an olive branch and don't take it away.
Your family are not going to leap into your arms and thank you for being different and showing them love. That will take time, so you have to be resolute. Show them an olive branch by doing something they need, then hold the olive branch there until they take it. Don't expect anything in return initially. In time they might just get used to you being this way. They may even act a little weird at first and criticize you. It's a defence mechanism - don't get drawn in!
4. Give yourself some time, space and love.
Very important! Take time out of the Christmas party to walk alone, talk to yourself and remind yourself why you want to change, how wonderful you are and what your heart needs. Tell yourself what's awesome and great about who you are and what you are doing! Positive self-talk, when done regularly, can be powerful!
5. Be gracious at all times.
Don't get defensive, passive aggressive, aggressive or apologetic this Christmas. Just be you. The best, nicest, greatest you that you can be! Remember what you were like as a child - innocent, free and open. In fact, if there are children around this Christmas, spend some time with them. See how they are different to adults. Remind yourself that the answers are there in what they do and say!
Christmas is a time of joy, celebration and happiness. Be grateful for what you have and don't let the dysfunction ruin your day!