Saving Christmas – coping with difficult people


So, here is it again. The last 12 months have flown by and Christmas is just around the corner!

We are social creatures – we need to love and feel loved and share pleasant, meaningful interaction.

Especially at Christmas.

We invest time and money in preparations; shopping, decorating, cooking, socialising, attending school nativities, pantos, carol services. December is full-on.

We hope that our Christmas will be a joyous time of giving and spending time together, sharing food, memories and making new ones.

Sadly this isn’t always how it turns out. Christmas can heighten and highlight cracks in our relationships and strengthen existing resentments.  A warm, Christmassy atmosphere is suddenly as frosty as the weather and ho! ho! ho! turns into hate! hate! hate!

Is there a way to save Christmas?

Firstly don’t anticipate problems because then you’ll be looking for them.

Don’t catastrophise – if someone says or does something upsetting, don’t think it means that the whole day is ruined or will be ruined.

” Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” Charles R. Swindoll

It took me years to fully appreciate this – that we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. The light bulb moment came when I realised that it was much less stressful if I didn’t react to other people’s negativity and that it was better for my self-esteem and well-being to remain calm and positive. [Yes, I have my moments but far fewer and life is all the better for it.]

You can’t control what others say  or do but you can evaluate:

Was it sparked by envy about something you have or have achieved? A backhanded compliment?  Can you put it in a more positive context?

Was there some truth in it? Is it highlighting an area you need to work on?

Was the speaker going through a difficult situation outside of Christmas? If so, take a deep breath and let it go.  Proverbs states, “A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offence.” We’ve all said or done things we regret when we’re dealing with ‘stuff’ and we hope that others will overlook them.

Is the speaker generally negative?  Some people just are. Chances are they’re not going to change just because it’s Christmas. All you can do is accept it – and be as kind as possible to them.

If it’s possible, find a private moment to discuss the situation with someone you trust. Another person’s input often reframes events, giving you objectivity, reassurance and affirmation.

If necessary, make an excuse and take yourself off for a while. Maybe get some fresh air, or sit quietly and read or write down how you’re feeling in your journal. Putting words on paper empties your mind, clarifies your thoughts and brings insights. Plus, you can plan what to say if you decide to speak to the person at a later stage about what happened.  Read more here.

Be kind to the person who’s winding you up. I know it sounds like a big ask but it might disarm them, or distract them and it’ll make you feel good about yourself.

When they’ve left or you’re back home, write a letter to the person who upset you – pour out how you felt and how you feel now. Let it all out. When you’ve finished, don’t read it, either tear it up and flush it down the lavatory or burn it. Don’t send it!!

Forgive forgiving others is one of the best gifts you give yourself. Remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to go back to the same situation – you can set boundaries or make adjustments. Sometimes, you need to ask God to bless someone and then let them go out of your life.

I hope you’ve found something useful in this blog post. Please add your own suggestions below.

The most effective action step  is to consciously decide to let it go, bless the person and move on. Yes, it’s difficult, but it is possible. All you can control is your reaction to situations. Think of it as a gift to yourself, setting you free from someone else’s negativity.

Wishing you a very Merry and Peaceful Christmas!

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