Woot! Woot! The holidays are here, which for many of us means going to any number of family celebrational gatherings between now and the end of the year.
And although they’re intended to be a time to celebrate special moments with the people we love and care for the most, they’re not always full of the merriment and good cheer that we anticipate.
Because it’s also the time of year that we’re exposed to our family members who are, let’s say, difficult to be around.
Pretty much every family has at least one annoying relative who seems to put a damper on everyone’s holiday spirit the minute they walk in the door.
You know the ones:
👎 The uncle who can’t stop blathering on about politics and how annoying all of his coworkers are.
👎 The sister-in-law who makes it clear through her passive-aggressive statements that nothing on the dinner table is up to her standards. “You brought a store-bought pie? My, that’s….interesting.”
👎 Your college-aged nephew who just broods with his arms crossed the entire time, letting everyone in the house know how he’s so much more intellectually superior to them because he’s the only one who’s ‘woke’.
Before you know it, you’re so annoyed being around these people you feel like you’d rather sit on a thumbtack than stay in the same room with them.
Before you run screaming out of Grandma’s house, keep this in mind: what makes a person difficult is not what they say or do – it is our judgement of them.
Consider carefully, what do you think about that person? About what they said? About their beliefs, opinions, or habits? Are they positive, or are they negative?
Remember that we as human beings get to choose what we think. What we decide to think will determine how we feel about that person and their behavior, and what it means to us.
No one can make us upset, angry, annoyed, or any other emotion. Another person can not control our emotions, or make us feel an emotion. We decide to feel that emotion based upon our thoughts about them.
So the reality is, It’s up to us to manage our own mind about this person, their behavior, and our relationship with them. Especially if we want to enjoy ourselves when they happen to be present.
What you are thinking, feeling, or doing, is where all of your power is. If you believe that person is making you feel a certain way, you are giving your power away to that person.
What you can do to change the situation is to change the way you think about that person. Just let him or her be who they are. They are allowed to be loud, angry, opinionated, selfish, or rude, and it does not have to affect you in any way.
Now, there may be consequences for their behavior. If obnoxious Uncle Bosworth snaps back at Grandma because she asked him to keep his trap shut, he may be told to leave the dining room. But his behavior does not affect your emotional state in any way. You do not have to get offended decide to be in a huff the rest of the evening.
So how do you practice your holiday zen when the situation calls for it? Just remember that YOU hold all the authority over your own thoughts and emotions. No matter how someone speaks or behaves, you can simply choose to ignore them.
Remind yourself that their words are just neutral, only holding meaning if you allow them to. It’s almost as if they are spoken in a galactic foreign language, like Wookie.
You’ll go about your happy holiday business completely unphased, like you’ve just pulled a Jedi mind trick on ol’ Uncle Bosworth.
Here’s to the start of a great holiday season, and may the Force be with you. 🥂