Holiday Family Events Coping Strategies

I recently talked about a family holiday coping strategy that I learned thirty years ago and still use because it works for me: When I am part of any group, especially large groups connected with emotionally “high stakes” situations like holidays, I pretend I am an anthropologist. That is, as an anthropologist, I study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings and I examine cultures around the world. During my holiday “expedition,” I discover a whole new “tribe” of people! I’ve never seen a group of people like this before, and they are very interesting indeed. Because I’m an anthropologist, I’m required to observe them from afar. Since I’m interested in how they live and interact with each other, I look at the ways they speak and behave with each other. I observe their verbal exchanges, their ways of interpreting what others are saying, their body language, and their emotional and physical displays, reactions, and responses. How do I do this you ask?

Here’s the secret:

I do not get involved in the dysfunctional behaviors.

As a pretend anthropologist, my job is to study how they live; how they interact, cooperate, and handle conflict, not to engage with them. I don’t get drawn into any dysfunction going on in front of me. I stay emotionally detached from what’s happening by simply observing and making mental notes like, “Wow that was a strange thing to say,” “Hhmm, I wonder why he did THAT?” or “Interesting. I wonder why she responded that way” and so on. Later, I’ll journal about it to gain some understanding, insight, and perspective.

Watch and Learn

In that same spirit of observing but staying uninvolved, a friend recently shared a little game that she and another awakened family member play at their family gatherings. It’s called I SPOT DYSFUNCTION BINGO, and it’s an awesome coping tool.

pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3812743 Holiday Family Events Coping Strategies

Before the gathering, the two of them decide what behaviors will be included in their game. They include at least ten things like “Johnny does his disappearing act,” “Mother promotes her victimhood,” “Sister Sally whips up drama,” “Brother Bill gets high,” “Cousin Nicky loses her temper,” “Dad makes someone cry,” and Aunt Mary gets drunk.” They quietly keep tabs on the unfolding events and secretly acknowledge when one of them has noticed five behaviors and gets a BINGO. Do they create actual bingo boards? No. They each have a text list they’ve shared.

What a great way to stay aware, emotionally detached from unhealthy behaviors, and validated by a fellow traveler on their healing journey!

I’m definitely keeping this one in my arsenal of coping strategies!

As always, celebrate your insights about dysfunctional behavior, whether it’s yours or someone else’s, and the clarity your insights bring. Acknowledge what you’ve learned AND HOW YOU CAN APPLY IT in the future. That’s called PROGRESS!

More tools for healing:

Learn about dysfunctional family roles

Learn about codependency 

Learn how to protect yourself with boundaries 

Learn about the narcissistic abuse cycle

Learn about Narcissism Awareness Grief

Learn how to use positive detachment

Learn why uncommunicated expectations can be harmful

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More resources to guide you in healing from childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect. Available on Amazon and wherever books are sold. (ebook, audiobook, hardcover, and paperback.)

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    About the author

    Facetune_06-05-2021-18-24-57 Holiday Family Events Coping Strategies

    As a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and with the help of professional therapists and continued personal growth, Diane Metcalf has developed strong coping skills and healing strategies. She happily shares those insights with others who want to learn. 

    Her books and articles are the result of her education, knowledge, personal growth, and insight regarding her childhood experiences and subsequent recovery work.

    Diane holds a Master of Science degree in Information Technology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. She has worked in numerous fields, including domestic violence and abuse, and is an experienced advocate, speaker, and writer about family dysfunction. Currently, she writes about recovery from narcissistic victim syndrome and symptoms of C-PTSD on The Toolbox and has authored three books in the “Lemon Moms” series. Visit her author’s website: DianeMetcalf.com

    She is no longer a practicing Social Worker, Counselor, Program Manager, or Advocate.

    This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.

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    Summary
    Article Name
    Holiday Family Events Coping Strategies
    Description
    I recently talked about a family holiday coping strategy that learned thirty years ago and still use because it works for me: When I am with my family of origin, especially when there are large groups of us together in emotionally "high stakes" situations like holidays, I pretend I am an anthropologist. That is, as an anthropologist, I study the origin, development, and behavior of human beings and I examine cultures around the world. During my holiday "expedition," I discover a whole new tribe of people…my family! In that same spirit of observing but staying uninvolved, a friend recently shared a little game that she and another awakened family member play at their family gatherings. It’s called I SPOT DYSFUNCTION BINGO, and it’s an awesome coping tool.
    Author
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    DianeMetcalf.com
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