Food Is Not Your Enemy


How to Deal with Uncle Norman
December 9, 2010, 12:20 pm
Filed under: Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: ,

No, I don’t have an Uncle Norman. But let’s pretend that Uncle Norman is everyone’s “problem” relative who must be endured at holiday time. He’s the family member who makes comments about your weight. He loudly expounds on the politics of the day, expressing views that are in opposition to everything you stand for. He asks your sister why she hasn’t found a husband yet, and when your brother is going to find a “real” job. He’s a big reason, perhaps, you get stressed around holiday time.

It’s no secret that at a time of year when we like to envision sitting around the table, Norman Rockwell-style, counting our blessings with those we love the most, many of us actually feel either miserable or ambivalent. And too often it’s our family that is at the root of our negative feelings about the holidays.

But is it our family, or is it us? Is Uncle Norman causing the acid to swirl in your stomach, or is it your reaction to him?

Uncle Norman is likely not going to change. So, knowing what you know about him, instead of letting him get to you, you can do something about how you respond around him. Whatever you do, don’t try to bury your feelings with food. Stuffing cookies into your mouth won’t solve anything. Rather than trying to numb yourself with comfort foods and sweets, allow yourself to feel sad or angry for a few moments, and then make a decision about how you want to deal with the situation:

-Try talking. If Norman’s annual comments about your weight bother you, consider letting him know it, in a neutral tone of voice. “Norman, it hurts my feelings when you say things about my weight. Would you mind not reminding me about it when I see you?”

-Breathe. If Norman makes a comment that angers you, stop and breathe deeply for a few moments. It will instantly calm you.

-Forgive and accept. Norman is who he is, and your getting upset and sulking around him won’t change his personality. Look for the good in Norman, forgive his imperfections, and then…

-Find a like-minded relative to spend most of your time with. You can have a quick catch-up conversation with Norman, but then hone in on your sibling, cousin, or aunt you adore, and talk, reminisce, and enjoy your hot apple cider with them for the rest of the evening.

Most of all, let go. Let go of your expectations that there will be issues. Let go of your fear that you’ll be unhappy. Go in with an open mind, and open heart, and the knowledge that you have control over how you respond to your family.

Enjoy your holidays.

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