Making Peace with Your Family

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Immunizing Yourself from Tensions

Stressed young Asian woman

There are usually one or two lines uttered by a relative that drive you mad every time, such as, “You look like you need to lose weight,” “Why aren’t you married yet?” or “Why can’t your kids behave as well as your sister’s kids?” With a counselor, friend, or tape recorder, take a few minutes several days ahead of any family gathering to practice hearing the one or two most guilt-inducing or shaming phrases that your difficult relative tends to say to you or someone you love. Then practice breathing slowly in and out, staying calm, and responding with clarity, compassion, and firmness to their worst remarks by saying something like: “I appreciate your concern. I’ll let you know as soon as I have any good news to report on that issue. Now let’s get back to the reason we’re all gathered here for this special event.”

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