How To Be Assertive With Your Family

Learning to be assertive is a good tool for surviving family gatherings. It helps you set boundaries and avoid arguments that bring you to the brink and affect your peace of mind. You can really enjoy moments of harmony with your family! Read on to find out how.
How to be assertive with your family

Knowing how to be assertive with your family is key to your well-being. Why? Because when families get together for vacations and other celebrations, a series of events converge in a dynamic that can make you lose your temper and even your composure. After all , a family gathering is a complex tribe with differing opinions. This does not always lead to a harmonious environment.

Everyone has the right to have a different opinion. What really counts is knowing how to respect each other in order to live together. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Things get a little more complicated during the holidays. Although it should be a time of relaxation, you should still prepare to spend time with the family. Maybe you haven’t seen some of those people in a while.

Therefore, you travel a considerable distance to attend the family dinner. It’s been on your calendar all year round. And yes, you might be really scared because that cousin who likes to argue with you about everything you do and say will be there. Or maybe you’re just scared to see your judgmental father. Or that meddling aunt who keeps asking about your private life and your future plans.

It’s not always easy to move from your comfort zone to enemy territory. You will survive though, even if these gatherings are rarely harmonious, glamorous and magical. In fact, you can come out unscathed and be very proud of yourself too. Read on to find out how!

A family is having a Christmas dinner

Strategies to help you be assertive with your family

Practicing assertiveness is one of the keys to practicing it with your family. It is not enough to try to avoid and understand them. There must be other essential ingredients such as courage, along with the will to change and the confidence to put them into practice.

It is often difficult to be assertive with a close relative. That’s because the emotional component can be limiting. You may feel that you are insulting them in some way and choose silence instead. Better to ignore them. This isn’t a good strategy, though, because any offense you ignore will put a dent in your self-esteem.

Be assertive, present, confident and direct

The main purpose of most family reunions is to catch up, spend time together, and enjoy each other’s company. However, there may be people around you who fight conflicts and are masters at breaking and changing harmony. When it comes to your well-being, keep one thing in mind: you’ll be fine no matter what. So try to lose your patience with nothing and no one.

So make it a point to be present, because if your mind is elsewhere, you won’t solve anything. Playing with your phone won’t make time go faster. Stay in the here and now, as this will help you get in touch with your emotions. Also, confront conflicts confidently and directly. How do you do this then?

  • Don’t be afraid to say what you want and what you don’t want. Say something like, “ I don’t want to talk about this right now. We’re having a good time together, so this isn’t the best time to talk about it now .”
  • If someone tries to argue, de-escalate it assertively . For example, say, “ I see you want to talk about things that just drive us apart. We’re not here to argue, we’re here to have a good time.
  • Even if an argument escalates and leads to major disagreements or problems, you can try to resolve it as quickly as possible. Remind everyone that the main purpose of the meeting is to have fun.
A man stands angry at a Christmas tree

Don’t reply if you don’t want to

Remember a very simple principle about exercising assertiveness in your family gatherings. You are not obligated to answer something you do not want to answer. No one, regardless of their status in your family, has any authority over you. So, if you don’t want to talk about something, don’t do it. Make this clear with confidence and respect.

How to deal with conflicted family members

Every family has someone who likes to provoke conflict and put everyone in their place. Such a person will contradict everything you say, just to annoy you. There are two options to choose from if you find yourself in such a situation. You can ignore that person, or you can try to communicate with them.

So keep the following in mind:

  • People who like to argue, contradict and disagree just because they can do so because they are probably insecure and need to put their opinions and ideologies above those of others. They belittle everyone around them. In these cases there is only one thing you can say: “ I understand and respect your point of view, but I am not here to waste time, but to enjoy it. You have your beliefs and I have mine, so let’s change the subject .”
  • In general, these types of people attack without solid or logical arguments. So another good strategy is to ask questions. The more questions you ask, the better your position will be. Keep calm and even joke a little. Sooner or later they will contradict themselves.

Your own well-being comes first

To successfully survive a family reunion that is already causing you discomfort and anxiety, you need to visualize it. Tell yourself you’ll be fine and know your limits. Therefore, work on the following:

  • Know what situations you will not tolerate before attending the meeting.
  • Visualize those boundaries and assume they are your safe space. Knowing what things and circumstances you will not allow should give you peace of mind.
A fence in a garden

In short, being assertive at family gatherings will make a big difference in your life. Not only will you come out victorious in an argument or disagreement, but you will also get better at it and be able to apply those techniques in any different context.

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