It’s the most wonderful time of the year! With the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you’ll be of good cheer! It’s the happiest season of all, right? Wrong. For most of us, this time of year stirs up family dynamics that are less than wonderful. You may find yourself feeling surrounded by family fruitcakes (including yourself).
How can I survive the Christmas season with my family? Here is one small tip that makes a big difference in surviving the Christmas season with family.
Family Survival Tip: 1 Degree Change
Let me explain.
Think about the person in your family that creates the most problems for you. Consider that relationship as two parallel lines. These lines have run for years in this direction. The relationship roles are established. Norms are in place. The pattern is clear. It can be hard to budge this relational dance but change is possible.
Change starts with you changing your behavior by 1 degree.
It doesn’t have to be drastic, life-altering change. Just begin with something very simple. Changing one degree can be as straightforward as deciding to pause and think for a moment before you respond to a question or a request from a family member. That moment of pause, while not a huge change, can make a huge difference in the outcome of the conversation.
In changing by 1 degree you break away from the unhealthy parallel patterns and learn new and healthier ways of interacting. Over time the parallel lines will be farther apart and the relationship will look more like you want it to be.
Family Survival Tip: How does change happen?
First, you must want change. You must feel the urgency that the old way of doing things isn’t working and you must find it necessary to create something new.
Second, you must have vision for change. Without vision you won’t know what needs to get done.
Third, communicate your vision with others. In communicating your vision you will let others know what you are doing. Sometimes this helps family members to accept and adjust to your changes.
Fourth, move toward the new desired behavior. Remember, in changing by one degree you move closer to the desired behavior. Change doesn’t happen over night. Change is long term. Healthy changes now will pay off in the long run later.
Lastly, maintain the change. After the change is set in place make sure you regularly check-in with yourself on how you are implementing the changes. You can also build on the change but don’t move on unless you’ve made good progress. Change is hard work – especially with family dynamics – so make sure you give yourself grace and celebrate your progress!
Remember that change starts with you! You cannot change others in your family. You can only change yourself. In changing you, others will have the opportunity to choose to change.
If you feel stuck in parallel lines of unhealthy relationships or if you’d like to make changes in your own life I’d be happy to chat with you.
Photo from Upsplash By Chelsea Francis
Photo from Upspalsh By Dakota Roos