Family talking

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Stop Doing What Never Worked in the First Place
During the holidays, most people get an intense dose of family. It's what we want but also what we dread. The dread comes from failed expectations. It comes from family members who won't change or who refuse to see that you have changed. So what do we do? We try to revive our expectations. The uncle who always gets drunk and embarrasses everybody? We try to keep him away from the punch. The father figure who resents growing older and keeps overasserting his authority? We kid him and try to pretend he's not a tiresome bully.

The first rule in dealing with all of this is to stop doing all the things that never worked to begin with. Placating doesn't work. Acting nicer than you feel doesn't work. Giving lavish presents to stingy relatives and resenting their lack of gratitude doesn't work. So just stop. When you stop trying to revive your expectations and just let others be who they are, much of your frustration will fall away.

Second, look around and give others what they really want. I'm not talking about psychoanalyzing your family. Most people want simple things: appreciation, gratitude, validation, affection, someone who will listen. When you consciously provide any of those things, magic occurs.

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