With the holidays around the corner, many of us can use a little help coping with all the togetherness. Sure, the holidays are a time for family gatherings and quality time with loved ones. But the stress can get so great that it can lead us to overeat, overdrink, overspend, and basically just snap.
But, not so fast, fellow hypochondriacs. It doesn’t have to be that kind of holiday season. I’ve asked Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, for guidance in how to deal with a mother-in-law trying to take over the kitchen, a sister who always has a better way to do things, an aunt who demands to know the status of your diet (or love life, whichever is worse), or a cousin bragging about her job promotion while you’re still searching. Jude Bijou, MA, MFT, is a psychotherapist, professional educator and workshop leader in Santa Barbara, CA.
Here are six ways to handle people who are rude, critical, controlling, nosy and insensitive.
Tell them you’re not seeking advice.
A good way to stop a bull who’s charging at you with unsolicited advice is to fend them off with a simple statement such as, “Thanks, but I’m not looking for advice right now.” If the person continues, lovingly say it again. And again, if necessary!
Acknowledge their good intention.
Mention that you appreciate the person’s support and concern. If you want, tell the person you might love his or her advice and input later–when you’re ready to ask for it.
Firmly stand your ground.
Sometimes, especially with particularly pushy people, it’s necessary to tell them it’s not helpful for you to receive unsolicited advice. Say it lovingly, but if they persist, tell them that you’re starting to feel angry or frustrated and you’d like them to stop, please. Repeat and repeat some more.
Realize that it’s not about you.
When people feel compelled to tell you what you should do, remember that what they’re saying and what’s unconsciously motivating them has little to do with you. They may need to feel important. They may be looking for love or respect from you or others. The reality is that you are fine. They have unexpressed anger and are targeting it on you. They forget that their domain is themselves and that their job is to find their own happiness. Rather, they believe they are entitled to mosey into someone else’s territory without permission.
Appreciate them when they’re not giving advice.
If you notice that a critical or pushy relative is being empathetic or listening with sensitivity, be sure to give him or her kudos for being so wonderful, caring or attentive. In other words, catch them being good. Praising what you do like may subtly sink in and help to change his or her behavior.
Let out those pent-up emotions.
After a long day of fending off critical, over-controlling relatives who’ve tested the boundaries of your patience and politeness, you need to get all that anger and possibly sadness out of your system. Find a private place to pound your fists, stomp your feet, growl and cry. You’ll feel better instantly, and ready to face them all over again tomorrow for the holiday brunch!
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Jude Bijou’s theory of Attitude Reconstruction® evolved over the course of more than 30 years working with clients as a licensed marriage and family therapist, and is the subject of her award-winning book, Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. Learn more at http://www.attitudereconstruction.com./