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HomeEntertainmentHow to avoid fighting with your family on your summer vacation

How to avoid fighting with your family on your summer vacation



Julia Ries

Plus, doing what you need to do to prevent a meltdown demonstrates that, even though you’re around your family—a group of people that notoriously get under your skin—you are still independent and capable of taking care of yourself, Lucas says. By walking away from a triggering conversation, for example, you’re showing yourself that you’re no longer that little kid who flipped out whenever your mom said something uncool. “You’re now an adult, you can do something different,” Lucas says.

Prep a personal pep talk

Before you board the train to your brother’s cabin upstate, say, write out a couple of supportive reminders you can tell yourself when you get worked up, Lucas suggests. These little messages, which you can jot down on a note in your phone for easy access, should remind you of who you are today (“I am Julia, I’m a professional writer, and I’m a rational adult who can stay calm in stressful situations”) and not who you were as a kid (a younger sister who threw a fit when she never got her way—and I mean never, people!!).

Or maybe, instead, you need statements that counteract your triggers. If you have a hunch your dad will echo a comment from the past that has scarred you (like “you’re too sensitive,” for example), tell yourself: “I can not change my dad, or what he says, and that’s okay.” Or if you have a hard time being around your family five days in a row, write out a line that says: “This is my vacation as well and it’s okay to take a moment alone,” Lucas recommends.

These supportive mini-mantras can help interrupt your typical patterns (like storming off, perhaps, or telling your dad to go to hell); they redirect your mind so you can see what’s happening from a calmer, more rational POV, Lucas explains. Self-affirmations, research shows, can also reduce stress and prevent you from getting defensive or ruminating. “So, if and when something gets kicked up and you’re going back to somewhere you don’t want to be emotionally, pull up your phone and look at that reminder right in front of you,” she says.

(Quick tip: Write these notes when you’re relaxed and centred. It can be tough to think logically when you’re emotional. Plus, it’ll be easier to believe the statements you prepped for yourself because you’ll know that you already analysed this exact situation when you were feeling more sensible—as opposed to scribbling something offhand like “my dad’s an a-hole!!” when you’re upset.)

Get curious about why your relative is behaving like that

If you’re out to dinner with the whole crew and your grandmother, as sweet as she is, shares a seemingly outdated political opinion, ask questions to better understand her perspective instead of barking at her about how she’s wrong or out of touch. You could say: “What do you mean?” or “Why do you think that’s the case?” or “Can you help me better understand your perspective here?” You might assume she’s being shortsighted, but maybe she had a personal experience you don’t know about that shaped her perspective. If you don’t ask, Lurie says, you won’t see where she’s coming from.



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