How to avoid conflict during the holidays with troublesome family members.
The holidays are a special time, perhaps the only time we get to see all our family members. As special as these occasions are, we all know there is always someone’s whose behaviour can suddenly cause a sour turn. If this year you had such experience you might look upon your next interaction with that certain someone with trepidation, concern, and in some cases even fear.
Do you know someone like this already? Here is a list from Dangerous Personalities of Behaviours that toxic family members often display that can alert you to potential issues or enmity. These traits drive others to desperation but don’t seem to affect the misbehaving individual in the least:
-Is irresponsible in speech and actions to the point of irritating others or hurting others’ feelings—it is as if this person negligently feels no need to filter what he or she says.
- Has a “short fuse.” Displays of intense anger outbursts are common and very disproportionate to the circumstances or the event that triggered the outburst.
- Being around this person leaves you less happy, less fulfilled, emotionally drained, crying, or constantly on edge, as you fret about the next act that will embarrass or hurt you.
-Tends to be opinionated, rigid in thinking, suspicious without cause, unyielding, or just plain truculent—seeming to enjoy conflict even at the expense of family harmony.
-Needs to be the center of attention at all times or acts out with unjustified irritation or anger if feeling left out of anything (conversations, events, outings, etc.).
-When you are around this person, you feel emotionally and even physically drained or you feel anxious, troubled, tormented, or infuriated.
-Those who are closest (e.g., you, family, children, spouses, boyfriend or girlfriend, etc.) routinely have to “check” to gauge this person’s “mood.”
-You and others find yourself “walking on eggshells” around this person.
-Arguments that should last a few minutes may go on for hours or days with no effort to ameliorate or end them.
-Seems to play role of “victim” (to get attention) or “princess” (expecting special treatment).
-Has been known to accuse others of some perceived injustice or demands to be treated as royalty – with every whim catered to at the expense of others.
-Is a “wound collector.” Collects past injustices, faux pas, mistakes, slights, or perceived social injuries and resurrects them to argue with others.
-There is no forgiving and forgetting—even mishaps from decades past are collected and cultivated for later reuse.
With individuals like this, the first thing to do is to recognize that you are not imagining things. Just because this person acted fine one day does not mean you should ignore the many other days of insensitive behavior at the expense of others. People like this need help, and they should seek out professionals who can handle this kind of disorder. In the meantime, we have to protect ourselves.
What can we do? “Plenty”, according to Dr. Joe Navarro, M.A. a 25-year veteran of the FBI and the author of What Every Body is Saying and Louder Than Words.
- Recognize reality and don’t sugarcoat it. People reveal who they are by their behavior, so don’t ignore the noxious things they do.
-You must set boundaries as to what you will and will not tolerate. Only when behaviors change should you lower the boundaries. - Get everyone else to agree that there are topics that simply will not be discussed because they only bring out the worst in these individuals, and don’t allow the conversation to veer into a minefield.
-Remember that just because you are family does not mean you are safe – we are only safe (emotionally, physically, psychologically) when we avoid or strategically guide those individuals or situations that would do us harm.
-Family holiday time is not therapy time—that is for professionals to handle and in private. -Do not allow yourself to be drawn into the drama that these individuals use to dominate social events and diminish your enjoyment of the holidays.
-Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, always remember that you have absolutely no social or familial obligation to be victimized—ever.
Now lets take a moment to self reflect... are we like those socially toxic individuals? Do we identify with any of the traits mentioned? No one is perfect and we all deserve to be guided on the right path. If you have lost your way and headed towards the dark side, become more self aware. Ask for a professionals help and get to know yourself.
The Lioness Within you craves for your attention. Teach yourself to live in passion, build confidence and find inner peace.