Everyone is well aware drama and contention often accompany family gatherings like over the Holidays.

Why is that?

One of the traits we humans have most in common is our tendency to return to our “comfort zones” when under stress. Even though we may get together with family or friends frequently, those moments still represent a form of change from our normal day-to-day lives.
We know the number one cause of stress is change. Even “good” change is stressful. If we’re not conscious of this dynamic, we are liable to fall in the same old traps over and over again—like returning to what we know, what we’re comfortable with, even if it’s not healthy. This is why people often keep returning to abusive relationships. It is what they know.

So, how to avoid them, especially during the holidays?
1.     Be aware of the dynamic and tendency of people looking to “trigger and be triggered” to rekindle familiar patterns in a subconscious attempt to cope with the stress of the situation. 2.     This will take a lot of practice but DON’T PLAY! Simply smile, know what is transpiring and SHUT THE FUCK UP!!! You won’t have to apologize or feel bad about something you did not say in response to someone trying to “yank your chain”.
3.     Moderate alcohol intake! If you don’t drink, that is good. If you do drink, that is fine. However, watch yourself. Drinking too much lowers you inhibitions and ability to discipline your tongue.
4.     Finally, if those who are unaware of the “returning to your comfort zone” dynamic or are hell-bent on purposely being “ugly” (beyond wearing an “ugly” Christmas sweater), simply and politely remove yourself from the situation.

With these coping skills in mind, your holidays (and other familial moments) can be a lot more pleasurable.

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