How to Survive your Toxic Family over the Holidays

This post was written by Rhonda Wasserman

Original content by Ashley Berges

Are you stressed out, perhaps even dreading the holidays? Do you have a toxic family dynamic that causes you to dread having to deal with the family during the holidays?

We need to understand our family dynamic to make personal decisions when spending time with our family during the holidays.

To understand exactly what you may be getting into during the holidays, let’s take some time to figure it our by asking some questions to assess the family dynamics

How was the experience last year? How did things go? What was the situation and the mood like?

Often, we are so overwhelmed and stressed out about a situation we end up walking into and fall into a submissive pattern of letting others beat us up. We can put ourselves into a powerful position if we assess the situation before our arrival.

Who was the toughest individual you had to deal with last season? What made them difficult? What was the dynamic like?

There are ways to limit communication and interactions with difficult family members. If there are other people at the event, you can use them like a buffer zone to keep your distance

Have you had any conversations and communication with these difficult family members since last year’s holiday situation?

Sometimes we can clear the air, but often we leave things without any communication and wait till we see them again to have a conversation. Think about how you could open the lines of communication to establish some boundaries before meeting again in person?

What were the triggers you dealt with last year? What topic triggered you? Who commented? How did you respond?

This may be someone you want to limit your conversation with this year so that you are not triggered again.

Whom did you want to see the most this holiday season in your family?We need to asses and analyzeeee

There must be one person in your family that you like and can have a conversation with. Open communication with that person by phone call or text before the holiday event. This will allow you to have a dialogue with this person. This should result in a safety happy person to talk to once you have arrived at the event.

Who do you not want to see and why?

Is there someone there who you just cannot stand? They push every one of your buttons. Journal about this person. Get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper. Journal about who it is, why, and how, they trigger you. If they are toxic, you will need to create a buffer zone at the holiday event. You need to find a way to safeguard yourself when you must be around toxic people.

Do I need to go? What will happen if I don’t show up?

On the flip side, sometimes dealing with difficult situations are good for us. We can analyze and understand if this is something we need to put ourselves through. If we can deal with this, it can be a very powerful way of getting out of the victim mentality and becoming powerful in our own life.

If you don’t go to the event, how guilty will you feel?

We feel guilty when we do not do what we believe we should be doing. This may be because we have always done the correct thing. We may also be people-pleasers, having codependent tendencies. Ask yourself where the guilt is coming from? It may be a fear based situation that holds no water. How many things do you do because you feel guilty if you do not do them?

You still have time to make the choice that you want to make.

There is time to make the choice you want to make. We need to assess and analyze the situation. You have time to choose to go or not to go. Take the time to make a well thought our decision. Base your choice on how you feel, what you want, what you are going to deal with, and your new thoughts based on your assessment.

The holidays can be an amazing time of the year except when you are dealing with a toxic family dynamic and not prepared. With the above knowledge, you should now be able to evaluate your family, the holidays, the atmosphere, and the guilt. It is important to comprehend the causes of our emotions. We must choose what is best for us. These choices will put us in a stronger position in our lives.

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2 Responses

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