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Dealing With Difficult People for the Holidays

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Furman chapter.

As Thanksgiving and the holiday seasons are coming up, I considered the topic of difficult people. Everyone and I mean everyone, has that difficult aunt, grandpa, 14th cousin, or whomever that comes to dinner and wants to start a fight over anything. They have different political beliefs, a different life timeline for your life than you, or just choose to be difficult. How do you handle this without ending up in prison for the holidays? I personally think my mugshot would make a cute holiday card, however, my mother may not appreciate it. 

Step one is avoidance. If at all possible, avoid this difficult person at your holiday gatherings. You know that they get under your skin, and it may cause some sort of conflict. Say a quick “hello” and move to another family member at the gathering. Unfortunately, this step is much easier said than done. This person can most likely smell your fear and will literally hunt you down. If this step doesn’t work, move on down to step number two. 

Step two is to have a plan of action. Acknowledge that you may get stuck in the corner with that difficult aunt and have some sort of backup plan. Have a little signal with your significant other, favorite family member, or family friend for when you need a helping hand to get you out of the situation. Act out what will happen if your difficult family member states that one phrase that makes you ready to scream. What’s your plan of action? How do you yeet yourself out of the situation as the kids say? (I think?) 

Step three is to remember that you can control your own actions, however, you cannot control other people’s actions. There are things in your life that you can control such as your own actions, feelings, and have your own opinions. Unfortunately, you have to accept that not everyone will agree with you and that they control their own life. If that difficult person comes up to you and starts saying things you don’t agree with or like, then leave (peace out!). You can respectfully agree to disagree and go on your own merry way.  I say all of this, however, if someone is mentally/physically/emotionally abusive to you, none of the above tips apply. You are the most important thing and you have to put your well-being first. Letting go of family members that are harmful to your personal well-being is a hard process, but is sometimes an absolutely necessary process. With all these tips, I hope you have a peaceful, conflict-free holiday season.

Helena Sherman is a senior majoring in elementary education and will be pursuing her master's degree in early childhood with +30 credits in literacy. She is a writer for HerCampus and is on the Heller Leadership Team. She describes herself as a curly-haired Jesus freak. Her passions include reading, talking, and musical theatre.