Did you just find out your super-conservative Aunt Rita has an Instagram because you saw she viewed your ris-kay cosplay outfit in your latest story? Maybe you dread reuniting with family for different reasons (did reading, “so what do you do?” send shivers up your spine?). We have a shareable guide this week on how to handle family gatherings when family maaaay not really “get” you and your quirky ways.
Welcome to #QuirkCounselor! The Quirktastic series where you can come for support, resources, encouragement, and inspiration to continue (or start!) living a life that genuinely brings you joy. Despite the naysayers and self-doubt you might experience trying to do so.
So the season of reuniting with family is here…
And let’s just say for some people, the phrase, “you can’t pick your family, but you can pick your friends” vividly comes to mind.
When the stress is on to spend time with extended family, but they’re not the healthiest people to converse with… you kinda wish there’d be a book on how to handle family gatherings.
Especially when you know you (unfortunately) have a lot of family members who don’t understand your pastime of creating cosplay costumes, creating podcast episodes around animated series, or your intense love of all things studs and rock n roll.
But don’t worry, we’re here to offer a little guidance on the matter.
Keep expectations to a minimum.
We get ourselves in trouble with any situation by building up expectations.
Instead, start creating non-negotiables.
See how the power can shift to you by claiming (whether verbally or making a mental pact to yourself) that you won’t tolerate certain behaviors?
Versus expecting someone to do something the way you want them to.
Or putting all your desires into an outside source that you can’t control, hoping it will 100% produce the outcome you desire.
Be realistic about your family’s reactions and patterns before going in with hope in your heart that your older cousin Jeremy has finally lightened-up and will wanna hear about the next convention you’re going to and how excited you are about the cosplay outfit you’re creating for it.
This is not to say you need to carry the mindset that you’re “better than” anyone. But instead to react, respond, and hold yourself to a higher standard (and higher self).
If family drama occurs or you find yourself being rubbed the wrong way, don’t continue the cycle by reacting the same way you always have.
That’ll just create the same result from everyone else.
Instead, work on responding differently.
It’s amazing what can happen over time when even one person changes their quality of interaction for the better.
Just be patient, and know that if nothing else… you’re doing it for your own protection, energy, and sanity.
And you never know, handling family gatherings may become easier and easier over time.
Watch out for energy vampires!
We’ve talked about energy vampires before on the site, and they’re very real!
As a quick recap, energy vampires are people that literally drain the energy out of you; they get energy by depleting you of yours.
Sometimes during family gatherings, they can’t be as easily avoided.
So find ways to change topics, or create distance, or even try cord-cutting! Like I said, it’s aaaall explained in the article we wrote. 😉
Use any negative emotions you experience as a compass toward healing.
One way I’ve been looking at more emotionally-charged moments in my life is that it’s a test or a way for me to grow.
(Hey, it’s not only true, but it beats moping around and letting sadness settle in for the long haul.)
Try to find the silver lining in what’s happening. What did that shady remark from your sassy grandma Gertrude teach you about her, or yourself and how you process information?
Practice self-awareness and how both your body and mind feel when your second cousin, Remy, decides to boldly tell you that you’ll never amount to anything if you don’t start growing up.
What are you going to do about it? What can be done differently?
There’s shadow work to be done!
One thing I feel many people tend to forget is that we’re all human! So we have “negative” emotions as well as positive ones.
We really shouldn’t shun the “less palatable” feelings we feel, because they can tell us a lot about ourselves.
And why not learn and grow while being around family you’re not 100% thrilled to show up for?
Shadow work is a great transition from the last point made; we need to process the emotions we feel–both good and bad.
Again, work on self-awareness and ask yourself plenty of “why” questions when you start to notice someone prodding you.
You’ve got this!
There’s a lot of mental preparedness that can happen when preparing to handle family gatherings. Especially when it’s the season you’ll probably see way more family members than usual…
But I believe you can make the best of it if you feel obligated to go (and the environment isn’t an abusive, highly toxic one!!!).
Feature Image via Vashti Harrison
Which piece of advice do you think you’ll use to deal with your next family gathering? Share and potentially pick up new tips over on the Quirktastic app!
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A mindset coach, foodie, writer, and creative coder that never "grew up" from her punk phase... or anime... or anything else epic like that.