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Tips on Getting Through Holiday Family Gatherings with Troubled or Dysfunctional Family Members





The holidays are here, and for many, that means braving the mind, heart, and spirit to withstand encounters with challenging family members. As the holidays is often associated with family time, its important to note that its ok if you don’t have one of those families that seem ideal to be in the same space with. Families are made of people, and people have problems. People have hurts, blind-spots, wounds, anger, shame, and insecurities that they carry with them everywhere, and what better time for someone to release their unhinged troubles, than with family?


Many families have those members that just cant hold their opinions and judgement to themselves. There’s those family members who have poor boundaries, and are inappropriately intrusive, asking questions and probing for answers that aren’t their business to hold. There are the family members that tend to start problems. Then, there just might be someone you’re very close to, that tends to easily trigger the more unpleasant emotions within you.


For all these reasons, its important to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself to enter any of these spaces. There are ways to mindfully and intentionally engage with others. One of the key components to maneuvering interactions with others is being self aware of your boundaries, as well as those of others. Many conflicts are rooted in not being in tuned to boundaries. Either over stepping or not respecting another’s boundaries, whether intentionally or unintentionally.


Let’s chat about boundaries. There are various types of boundaries important to keep in mind when it comes to relationships and interaction.


Physical boundaries refer to personal space and physical touch. Healthy physical boundaries include an awareness of what’s appropriate, and what’s not, in various settings and types of relationships (hug, shake hands, or kiss). Physical boundaries may be violated if someone touches you when you don’t want them to, or when they invade your personal space (for example, going through your bedroom or office).


Intellectual boundaries refer to thoughts and ideas. Healthy intellectual boundaries include respect for others’ ideas, and an awareness of appropriate discussion (should we talk about the weather, or politics). Intellectual boundaries are violated when someone dismisses or belittles another person’s thoughts or ideas.


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