It is pretty certain that at some point in your life you will meet a challenging and difficult person and have to find a way to deal with it. It can be easy to think “Why should I worry about this?”, if the person makes you sad or angry for example. A logical step in such a case is to distance yourself from the situation. However, it’s not always that simple. What do you do when it comes to difficult family members?
“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Unfortunately, you can’t choose your family. Many of us probably have an annoying cousin or uncle that they can’t get along with. This can lead to many difficult situations, for example during ‘forced’ events such as birthdays and holidays. Even though it seems that we have little control in such situations, there are still a number of ways to better cope with difficult family members.
Accept who they are
It makes no sense to constantly resist a situation; chances are that you only make it worse for yourself. Acceptance of the situation is important. If you accept reality as it is, you can release your frustrations and other emotions more easily. Accept that you have a difficult family member and that you cannot control everything.
Be direct and set your limits. In this way you indicate what you expect from someone and what you don’t and it is clear to both of you how the relationship works.
Your own well-being comes first
Maintaining difficult relationships can be a challenge, but make sure that you don’t end up in a black hole. Do you notice that a difficult family member requires a lot of energy? Stop and think about what you need. Maybe take some distance? If it is an immediate family member, it will be difficult and confrontational to tell them that you need some space. Remember that your own mental and physical well-being are your number one priority.
Be aware of sensitive topics that work as a “trigger” for you
There is a good chance that the difficult family member and you clash because of different characters and / or opposite opinions. Think about this. Which topics have led to a discussion in the past? If you know which topics act as a trigger, you may be able to prevent discussions and fights.
Saving a difficult relationship with a family member can be quite challenging. But it is possible. The most important thing to remember is that setting boundaries and distancing yourself do not make you a bad person. Family is important, but taking care of yourself too.