Ask Dr. Joy: Holiday family issues

By WEEK Producer

December 11, 2013 Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 7:40 PM CDT

In this season, that is supposed to be happy and joyous, how do you deal with people always telling you about your misgivings?

The holidays are stressful for so many people because the people they are supposed to love are many times the ones who make the holidays un-loveable.

When you are surrounded by critics, controllers and advice-givers during the holidays, here are some suggestions for making the holidays enjoyable.

- Stand up and state you are not seeking advice. Use a non-threatening statement like, "Thank you, but I'm not looking for advice right now." Setting boundaries and being direct and loving is important for creating harmony.

- Mention intentions. You want to set boundaries, but sometimes the advise-giver can feel offended, so make sure you state that you appreciate their loving concern. Mention that you appreciate their support and caring, but that you will check in with them if you need some suggestions.

- Be strong and firm. Sometimes family can be pushy and you may get walked over without some preparation. Ask the advice-givers to please allow you the opportunity to do things in your own way, and stay firm and stand your ground even though you may need to repeat your response.

But what if the controllers continue?

- It's not about you. Typically we first blame ourselves for the criticisms, but it is important to realize that the message is about the sender. Many times the critic has unexpressed anger, old resentments or other issues that has nothing to do with you.

- Focus on the good. Try to catch the critic being loving and reinforce that behavior. Praise them for being caring and attentive without giving criticism.

- Vent with the appropriate support person. It may be a long day of controlling relatives but vent those frustrations with a loving partner, or support person who will allow you to express your feelings. Use the private arena to sort your feelings and you'll find that expressing it to a loving support person is more rewarding than starting a family feud.

To submit a comment on this article, your email address is required. We respect your privacy and your email will not be visible to others nor will it be added to any email lists.