Tis’ the season for spending time with loved ones you probably haven’t seen all year. Maybe you aren’t ready for the annual family holiday gathering. Sometimes annoying family members bring out the worst in us. However, crazed cousins and unruly uncles can be handled effectively. Here are a few methods for dealing with even the most vexing people.
First, put them into different categories of irritation:
The first irritator – is not trying to be annoying; it’s just how they are. For example, I have a loving aunt whose voice gives a bone-chilling shrill. I’m talking about nails scrapping the blackboard type of sound. If you’re into meditation, you may be familiar with this approach. Picture the sound, gesture or smell passing you. Mentally watch it leave from your sight. It takes practice but this help put you more at ease.
The next irritator is annoying and oblivious. They have no idea how annoying they are, and courteous clues don’t work. So you give them a blank stare and turn your focus internally. Mentally prepare your Xmas list or New Year’s resolutions. Better yet, think about a funny episode from your favorite TV show. Occasionally, give them a grunt or a “hmmm” or “ooh” but emotionally, you aren’t there.
The last irritator is annoying and knows it. He or she enjoys pressing your buttons. I remember my teacher once said. “When someone annoys you just ignore them, and they would go away.” Well, that’s not always the case. The aggravator wants a reaction so it can be difficult to completely ignore them. So before you get up and start screaming expletives try this approach.
You may have to take a few cleansing breaths, (remember Martin Lawrence in the movie Bad Boys, Woosaaa). Then, look at the annoyance from another perspective. For example, Retired US Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum survived being tortured after her helicopter was shot down during the Gulf War. She proclaims positive psychology helped her survive.
While under attack, she asked herself the following. “Is there a risk of death attached to this experience?” “Is it permanently disabling?” “Is it permanently disfiguring?” “Is it excruciating?” If what you are going through does not meet the above-mentioned criteria, those annoyances seem irrelevant.
Unfortunately, family squabbles go beyond the holiday season. However, as you become familiar with these techniques, you will avoid a lot of irritation. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy holiday season.
About Christine Taylor