Christmas stress and difficult people.

Day 3 In the series of the Christmas Countdown on getting the better of Christmas Stress.

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How do you deal with DIFFICULT PEOPLE?

Part and parcel of Christmas stress is ‘expectation and experience’ in the run-up to Christmas.    And last week we looked at ways to help you to handle the pressure.

Then in blog two, we looked at Loneliness at Christmas. I included some web links if you are somebody who would like to have a community involvement, as well a list of what some people enjoy if they decide to have a quiet day at home, or go away.

Welcome to this week and blog 3 of this 6-part series.

How do you deal with DIFFICULT relatives or friends?

Avoid Christmas stress

Christmas stress: “what have I forgotten now!”

Avoiding Christmas stress isn’t easy when we are dealing with the individual emotions and expectations. So how do you usually deal with ‘difficult people’ co-ordinating family visits, or the overwhelming demands on your limited spare time?

Sometimes the day arrives, and we can feel downright bored, hemmed in because we have to live up to what we think are the expectations for our behaviour on the day. And before you know it out comes the old arguments or teasing that feels uncomfortable.        Agggh!

Okay, so we need to get through this people. After all, we want everybody to enjoy their Christmas and get something that they will enjoy. Don’t we? (A-ha, there’s the rub!)

There may be a caveat to this!

If some things go wrong, we can find ourselves following old conditioning and start playing the blame game. Either blaming others or even putting ourselves down as inadequate.

Keep in mind that this can be an automatic learned response.

Something fascinating happens when families get together. We’re with people we love and care about, and yet by the end of the day, we can find we are tearing our hair out.

Each of your siblings appears to regress into old childhood or teenage behaviours? And that includes you! Disagreements surface and arguments start.

Past hurts flare up as everyone reverts to well-worn practiced habits from the past.

Christmas stress and the learned roles from childhood that forged the family identity.

Parents may find themselves reverting to an authority role (over their now adult children!) While siblings may start returning to their rebellious childhood phase, not being bothered to help out or lording it over the younger siblings.

Some people go into an adaptive childhood state looking for ways to fit in by taking on the role of the clown, or the pacifier.  Whatever was part of the family dynamics it can become exhausting and very stressful.

As adults out in the big-wide-world, these behavioural patterns would have been modified because new skills have been learned in how to get along with others. Some adults will have gone on to have families of their own.

Occasions like Christmas and the original family unit can be a trigger for past identities to resurface again.

In the grown-up state, we can find more balanced ways of interacting.

We just need to stop falling into the past and stay present. Mindfulness might describe this adult way of behaving as being in the moment.

How do I STOP myself from being a pain? How do I deal with others who are playing up!

Well, first of all, you now know what may potentially be going on.  And with this knowledge its ultra-important that you DO NOT start telling other people that they are behaving like a child.

Seriously don’t you’ll only live to regret it! Remember we are talking about automatic learned responses.

Let’s call it an environmental trigger that causes you, your siblings and your parents, even friends, to enter into familiar ‘trance states.’ These states can bring to the surface old habitual behaviour patterns.

Ideas?

When you start to change, others may follow.

If there was a way to catch yourself or bring to your awareness a reminder of what may be going on then you could imagine something like a red STOP sign or even pressing a big FREEZE-FRAME button. Include a relaxation breathing technique and you may find yourself on the way to reducing the heightened emotion.

You can sign up for the giveaway guide, click here which was offered on day one of the Christmas Countdown series.

Your growing understanding can be influential in helping to de-escalate your stressful feelings more quickly than before. A walk in the fresh air can pace away those stress hormones too! Even walking the dog!

In relation to another person’s behaviour, reassess before criticising, giving advice or correcting them.

If bickering begins saying something quietly like, ‘hey let’s stop it’s Christmas’ or using humour that means something good for you both might help to de-escalate a situation.  If someone privately asks for your advice about something offer it but use tact at all times.

Healthy regression:

What do you enjoy doing with Mum or Dad? With other relatives or friends? Could this be part of the day’s activities?  And if Mum, a significant other, or friend has done all the cooking how do you offer to help out in rebalancing that effort on the day?

Better still –  it’s Christmas we’re all adults let’s pre-plan.

The following information is not comprehensive but gives an outline of what some people choose to do.

Pre-planning is vital to ensure that everybody (as adults) are getting the Christmas they want.

As an adult, you may have a life of your own with a partner, best friends, or want to spend specific time with your children. Singles may want to go to events or organise some ‘me time.’ Those things you’d love to do to wind down after a busy year.

Being authentic about your own needs also means showing your love in how you’d organise some flexibility to ensure that you make contact with older relatives during the holiday season.  In person, across Skype or on the phone.

The older generation may also have activities that they would enjoy doing over the holiday. Would they like to have the flexibility to travel to different members of the family on different days? Taking a break from the old traditional parental ‘cooking and hosting’ duties. What else is going on in your local area? As an example search for ideas Click here to see what’s happening in Kew Gardens for Christmas in 2017.

Not every celebration means that everybody needs to pile back to the original family home.

Gentle and loving conversations.

Having balanced adult conversations NOW could help in accommodating what’s essential to each person and how they would like to spend their Christmas.

For example, it might lead to an agreed schedule for who needs to go where and when across the holiday season. Doing this with love could break old destructive patterns and create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.

“Create new ‘progressive,’ not ‘regressive’ experiences.”

Christmas Stress dissolves

Christmas stress begins to dissolve

I wonder what the outcome could be if we let past mistakes be bygones threw in a soupçon of compassion and forgiveness on the day.  By focusing on enjoying those good things and gifts around us. Maybe the experience would turn out much better than ever before.

Practice a sense of thanksgiving. As the year is coming to an end what can we also be thankful for?

A bit of positive psychology at this time of year could be a good thing. Tomorrow making it a fun Christmas means ditching the pressure of perfection and letting go of the worry from expectation.

Just how different would Christmas be for you if you could take each moment as it comes?

Until then, thanks for reading.

Christmas countdown

Maria Richards Cognitive Hypnotherapist

Whether it’s stress, anxiety or building your confidence in finding your life purpose, I’m here to help. Click on my image to find my contact me page.