There's a fine line between endearing and annoying. Think about what drives you crazy about this crazy member of your family. Is there another, more positive way to see his or her actions? For instance, if your mother-in-law stuffs food in your fridge and asks too many questions, you may see her as overbearing. But if you switch focus and look through a different lens, you may realize that her overbearing actions can also be viewed as overly caring. Once you look through a different lens and consider your crazy family member's intentions, you may have more patience.
Let's face it, not everyone is well-intentioned. Some people are just plain difficult and have a way of draining all of our energy. A good litmus test to know if you're with a toxic person is to figure out if you leave most of your interactions feeling worse about yourself. Good relationships should always bring out your best. If someone is disrespectful or rude, respect yourself and set boundaries. You can be cordial without spending too much time or sharing anything too personal with this difficult character. A healthy distance should make you feel better.
We've all heard that while we can't choose someone's behavior, we can choose how we respond to it. Relationships are a two-way street. Change your approach with a difficult family member, and the dynamic in your relationship will change. Instead of recycling familiar arguments, acknowledge this other person's viewpoint as much as possible. And if you really want to freak them out, kill them with kindness. Once you change your script, your relationship will inevitably shift.
It would be great to say that the character snippets I saw of This is Where I Leave You were outrageous and unrealistic; but I've interviewed too many people to know that there's a reason so many jokes feature outrageous family members. If you switch your focus, create boundaries and change your response, navigating your crazy... ahem... colorful family may become more manageable.
Andrea Syrtash is a dating and relationship expert, published author and on-air host. She has contributed to over a dozen relationship advice books and is the author of He's Just Not Your Type (And That's a Good Thing), Cheat On Your Husband (With Your Husband) and the co-author of It's Okay to Sleep with Him on the First Date: And Every Other Rule of Dating Debunked.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of SheKnows and This is Where I Leave You, a Warner Bros. Picture film.
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