What to do with relative’s nit picking during Holidays?

“Stop it! I don’t like it!”


The holidays are rapidly approaching. We are all getting more excited as well as more afraid: what will my mother, father, aunty, or uncle do or say in the family gathering? What if they criticize my new flat, hair, boyfriend, job or cooking? What if they remind me all over again about my childhood mistakes? What if they question all my current decisions? Will we end up quarreling as we did last time?

How can they find my most sensitive spots? How could I possibly stop them?

In Montessori Schools, teachers teach the new preschoolers: If the other children do something that you don’t like, just tell them: “Stop it! I don’t like it!” They learn it quickly, and easily use it to prevent their peers from annoying them.

As adults, if someone generates trouble, we usually try to convince them they are not right. We prove that the story they told did not happen the way they recall. We deny that we did what they shared because of the reason they said it. We swear that the other made the first step, we only replied. Actually we argue about the content of what they say.

Why are we bothered by those opinions at all? Usually, it is not because of the content but mostly because we assume or unconsciously feel that they might want to show they are more superior than we are. They might want to seem cleverer than we are. They might want to control. They might want to lecture us by pointing out our mistakes. The point is not what we are talking about, but the way they are acting dominantly towards us. This is what we really don’t like!

Although better understanding their hidden intentions is worth knowing, our own sensitivity about certain stories or approaches is even more valuable. Holidays are not the best time for those clarifications. Let’s leave it for some other time!

This time it is better to avoid unnecessary confrontations. How? If someone finds your weak point and reminds you about it; if someone pushes your button, if you feel the sudden burst of hurt and anger coming up inside you: Don’t argue, don’t fight back! With a firm, neutral voice, simply declare: “Stop it! I don’t like it!”

Tell me if it worked!