Family gatherings like holidays, birthdays, and weddings can be an incredible time for joy, laughter, and togetherness. But they can also trigger our anxiety, anger, and frustration. We love our family members, but we don’t always see eye-to-eye with them. Personalities and viewpoints can easily clash, making family events feel like more effort than fun.
Navigating family or group dynamics of any kind can feel heavy. Many of us even dread it. But it is possible to shift our mindset and completely transform our experience.
Here are 3 tips to reframe your interactions with relatives:
1. Find appreciation for those you love.
No matter how difficult our families can be, there is always room for appreciation. Shifting our mindset to one of gratitude and joy can completely transform our experience. It helps us keep check on our thoughts, actions, and words and ensures we are sprinkling them with kindness.
When you focus on appreciation, it helps in letting all of the minor annoyances slide off your back. It allows us to focus on what is important – being with those you love while they are still in your life, not how good or bad the food is or how perfect the conversation is.
Appreciation does not mean everything always goes right or that you agree with all of their choices. It means that you are grateful that they are in your life. Don’t look for or expect perfection from family events, but appreciate the fact you get to spend these moments with people you love and who love you.
2. Rather than focusing on how they are not meeting your expectations, ask yourself: how can I give more to them?
We often hold on to past hurt from our childhood, especially when it comes to family, and it can prevent us from accepting changes in our relationships. For instance, if you feel that your parents did not support you in the ways you needed while you were growing up, it may be difficult for you to show up for them in the ways they need now as they’ve gotten older. But this thinking also holds us back from overcoming our traumas and growing as people.
Our relationships may still be challenging and changing. But rather than focusing on how family members are not meeting your expectations, you can choose to reframe your relationships around the question: how can I give to them? How can I make sure they are happy and nurture them? How am I changing in that way, becoming more of a giver rather than a receiver?
3. View family conflicts as an opportunity to learn and grow.
When negative things come into our lives, it’s easy to feel like they are some kind of punishment, whether we think we deserve it or not. However, there is a beautiful purpose for everything negative that we experience, including struggles with our family. Everything that happens to us and around us is meant to teach us something. It doesn’t mean the behavior of others is correct, but if we are experiencing it, there is something for us to learn.
Think of life like a custom workout routine. A personal trainer has designed an exercise regime meant to target your health goals. Every step of the way is hard, grueling work that often makes you want to quit, but at the end of the day, it leads you to become stronger, more fit, and healthier. In the same way, your family was divinely designed for your spiritual growth. It isn’t meant to be easy – the growth comes from the challenges.
Family gatherings present opportunities to try to be our best selves among the people who may trigger us the most. If you can remember you are supposed to be growing from the experience, focus on sharing, and awaken greater and great appreciation, not only will your family dynamic be more positive for you, but you will also benefit even from the uncomfortable situations that come up.