According to Ditch the Label research, those who bully are more likely to have experienced stressful and/or traumatic situations than those who do not. Homelife can have a major impact on our behaviour – we found that 36% of people who had previously bullied somebody, had experienced a significant family fall out. Learning to deal with difficult people is a considerable advantage in life, and can be valuable in any number of situations.
This time of year can be full of fun and festive get-togethers, but it also brings a double dose of ‘family time’ which often leads to tensions running high in the home. It’s not uncommon for family fallouts to take place over the holiday season, so here’s a tip or two on how to cope with a family fallout…
1. It’s not about you.
This can be especially difficult to believe when it comes to family fallouts as everything seems personal. But the truth is, it’s not about you. Mastering the art of not taking things personally is a lifelong journey, and the earlier you start the better. Start by reminding yourself that what people do and say about you is the product of who they are, not who you are.
“Mastering the art of not taking things personally is a lifelong journey”
2. Be direct.
If you decide to confront a difficult family member, be direct and true to yourself. Stick to the facts and use “I” statements, for example – “I feel sad when you don’t listen to me”, “I feel angry when you don’t let me finish what I was saying”, “I feel hurt by your behaviour”. Manipulative people are not known for their empathy and they will try and confuse you by telling you that you can’t feel a certain way because of a million different reasons. Please don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you your feelings aren’t valid. Your feelings are always valid and your goal is to be honest.
3. Look for the positive.
For some reason, human nature insists we pay more attention to the behaviour of difficult family members versus the ones we like and get along with. With family fallouts or stressful family events, it can make such a difference when we focus on those we feel safe to love and the positivity they bring into our lives. As a wise person once said “What we focus on grows”, so we can either get busy growing negativity or get busy growing positivity.
“Don’t let yourself become what you despise in others”
4. Lower your expectations.
Try to be realistic with your expectations of difficult family members. Remember, difficult people are notorious for their inability to self-reflect and admit when they’re wrong. So by not expecting more than they are capable of giving, we protect ourselves from hurt and disappointment.
5. Lead by example.
At the end of the day we can’t control anybody else’s behaviour but our own. When confronted with a family fallout it is incredibly easy to get caught up in the drama and judge people’s behaviour. We know hurt people hurt, so before responding from a place of hurt and anger think twice and check your own behaviour. Words to live by from Michelle Obama are; ‘When they go low, we go high.’ Don’t let yourself become what you despise in others.
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