I recently talked about a particular “family events coping strategy” that I learned thirty years ago and still use because it works for me. Here it is: when I attend family gatherings, especially those involving emotionally “high stakes” situations, I pretend I am an anthropologist.
Anthropologists study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings, and they examine various cultures all over the world. So, as a pretend anthropologist myself, I treat the gathering I’m attending as my own little “expedition!” I imagine I’ve discovered a new culture, and this particular group is very interesting indeed.
Because I’m an “anthropologist,” I’m required to observe from afar and not interfere with their interactions. Since I’m interested in how they live and interact, I also look at how they speak to one another and behave around each other. I observe how they treat each other, and I study their words, body language, emotional and physical reactions, and responses.
How do I do this without getting involved in what they’re doing, you ask?
Here’s the secret: