It’s happened to all of us: We go home for the holidays only to spend it butting heads with family members, a boyfriend, or your best childhood friends. Or maybe you asked your boss for extra time off and he or she rebuffed your request, only to let a colleague have the time.
Whatever the case may be, holiday spats are common occurrences — some larger and more longstanding than others — but there comes a time when we have to ask ourselves whether it’s important for our emotional well-being to learn to deal with people who are constants in our lives, even those that are a pain to get along with.
“We like to feel our relationships are resolved because it helps us feel as if we’re not stuck in the emotionally unknown,” said Dr. Robi Ludwig, a nationally-recognized psychotherapist and author who’s a frequent guest on the “Today” show, CNN, and Fox News.
We enlisted Dr. Ludwig to help you (and us!) figure out how to deal with three key types of people in your life — and when to cut ties for good.
It’s a grim reality that not every person is destined to have a flawless, sunny relationship with their mother, father, grandparent, or sibling. Sometimes the difficulties are minute — nitpicking, differing opinions on fairly inconsequential things — but sometimes they’re much, much larger and can be detrimental to your well-being.
However, if you feel that cutting the person in question out of your life completely is a drastic measure you’re not prepared to take, Dr. Ludwig suggests being totally honest with yourself and accepting that the family member has limitations.
“Sometimes accepting the limitations of a family member can be tremendously freeing. If you have a mother — or any family member, for that matter — who has a limitation, it’s best to accept what it is and find a way to let go of the fantasy of who you wish them to be,” she said. “Family members can be emotionally toxic. Figure out who this person is and who they are not, and then proceed in a way which feels healthy for you. A challenging yet important task!”