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Family

How to keep family gatherings drama-free

Neuro Linguistic Programming practitioner, Emily Smith, shares how to best deal with stressful family gatherings.

Most families have their dramas and this affects our ability to really enjoy the time we spend together.
The good news is there are ways to have a relaxed, fun time with extended family without any undercurrents of ill feeling.
First, it's important to seek to understand why tensions can arise in almost every family.
Every person attending a family gathering, including you, comes with their own model of the world.
They have their own expectations around what is acceptable and what is not.
And every single person is doing the best they can with the physical and mental resources available to them at that time.
Whether it's a comment about your diet, your parenting style or the work you do, or a differing political standpoint, there are several things a family member might say that you could take as a personal attack.
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Remembering that everyone has their own perceptions will allow you to reframe their comment.
If the person is part of the extended family, perhaps they were brought up differently and value different things.
Perhaps they have not learnt effective communication strategies and are coming from a place of love, but struggle to express it.
Perhaps they are having a hard time with their own emotions right now.
You will never be able to control what others think, say or do. But you can control your own internal response.
For example, if your aunty was to say, "Your children need more discipline," you might choose to think, "How rude!" and feel angry – and this would spoil your enjoyment of the get-together.
However, if you choose to reframe this thought as: "I believe my children are as well-behaved as I expect them to be and that's what matters most", you will feel more content and enjoy the event more.

How to create a peaceful family gathering

Notice your thoughts
Your thoughts create your emotions.
In order to enjoy the event, it can help to think joyful thoughts.
Reframe
Consider the situation from a different angle and reframe your thought in a positive way.
Question thoughts
Ask yourself, "Is this thought useful? Is it serving me in a way that will help me enjoy my day?"
Breathe
Deep belly breaths tell your body and mind that you are okay, which will help to calm your thoughts and emotions.

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