Family drama is tough.
Lack of gratitude or appreciation
Drunk and disorderly family members
Passive aggressive behavior
Now, let’s get started on what we can do about it.
First, assess your particular situation and decide whether you want to focus on your external environment (your family) or your internal environment (how you react to your family).
If you’re really ambitious, you could choose both!
In case you are the ambitious type, I’ll offer a few strategies.
Let’s start with the external.
The reality is we can’t change our family, as much as we might want to. People only change when they are ready to change.
Instead of changing your family, think about influencing them.
The reality is, if you do something different they will have to figure out how to respond to it, which may change things for the better.
I really like a communication system called non-violent communication. Click the link and the internet fariy will direct you to it.
Here’s another strategy for influencing that can work magic on difficult relationships.
When something ‘dramatic’ come up, use this four step communication process.
1. When I see/hear…
2. The story I tell myself about that is…
3. What I feel is…
4. What I need/want/like is…
Here’s what it might sound like,
“When I hear you raising your voice, the story I tell myself is that you don’t respect me and I feel hurt. What I really need is for us to speak to each other with kindness.”
Let’s say your attempt at influencing the family drama is an epic fail. Don’t lose hope (or storm out), you can always control your internal environment.
Your family might not change, but how you respond to them can change.
Your internal environment is entirely within your control.
Notice the little voice in your head that makes the drama worse.
“Aunt Suzy is turns into such a bitch when she drinks.”
“No one appreciates all the time and effort I put into preparing a nice meal.”
You get to control whether you listen to that voice. It’s this voice controls how you actually feel about the family drama. Wanna feel peaceful about the drama (or at the very least accept it)?
Turn down the voice. Literally. Imagine a volume control knob and turn it down. If you listen to the voice that is telling you your family should be different than they are it will make you crazy.
If that doesn’t work, trying checking out a process called The Work. Byron Katie does has a super fascinating process that I’ve used with many of my clients.
To quote Ms.Katie, “when I argue with reality, I loose. But only 100% of the time”. Put another way, when you think your family should be different than they are you will suffer.
Give these strategies a try. Let me know what works for you. And if you have strategies that you already use, share the love.
On your side. Even (especially) if it feels like your family is not.