My dad has this quote that I'll never forget. "You didn't choose your family and you don't have to like someone just because they are in your family." While this may seem harsh, it's true. When you put it in perspective, we give many of our relatives a " family pass" where they get away with crap any other average person may not get away with. We don't always call them on it in the moment and many times we end up "letting it go".This is because we love our family right? And also because we may think we will hurt their feelings OR they are too shallow and ignorant to realize that they even have something to be accountable for...they just don't get it and we don't wanna talk to a wall...plus we simply love them, even the members that we don't know that well. We might be a little more generous to those in our family even when we don't know them that well....just because they are "family".
So let me just get to another thought here...for those of us who have a pretty large family (this includes cousins, aunts, uncles, extended family) there is usually a circle of members who keep in close contact for a number of reasons. Maybe it's relatively close geographical distance, familiarity, or some other reason why you stay connected. That's all good. How about the family members who are not geographically close? How often do you stay in touch with them? If the answer is "rarely", think about why. Is it the distance? That's understandable. We get caught up and busy in our own lives and although it doesn't take much to pick up a phone or get online we just put it off for some reason, but that can easily be addressed. What about the ones who don't live that far away that you don't stay in close touch with? Either you do try and they don't don't respond so you give up, or again you are too busy and just caught up.
Other reasons may include past experiences from the interactions that you have already had. What were those like? What do you talk about when you are with certain family members? How do you behave? Being that sometimes they don't really know you that well even though they are your relatives, has it ever occurred to you that you may have done or said something to turn them off (or maybe vice versa of course...but let's just focus on you here for the sake of reflection and what you can control). When you get around them do you talk about yourself too much? Do you only ask them how they are doing because it's polite? Do you actively listen to them? Do you give them a hard time about how they don't stay in touch? Do you talk mess about other people to them? Do you shoot down what they have to say or do you agree to disagree sometimes? Are you a know it all? Do you constantly talk about how hard you work, try to stress how important your job is, or try to impress them by talking about the "important" people you know? Are you indirectly insulting the very person you are talking to without even realizing it? Do you talk about how great of a parent you are...a little too much? Does anybody really wanna hear all that sh$t or are they just being polite to you? I can go on and on.
My point is that the holidays are coming and also a great opportunity to have some meaningful connections with family that you don't see often or better yet, family members who don't like you...it's true, they pretend they do, but you may really get on their last nerves. They love you though. The good news is that you can turn this all around; that is if you can lose your ego. It's so worth it. Also, it doesn't hurt to give those that get on your nerves another chance; sometimes again and again unfortunately, but hey it's not like you have to go out of your way to connect with them. Just give them a chance and try to connect when you have to see them and maybe things will eventually change. If not, as long as they don't purposely disrespect you and it's clear that they are only disrespecting you without knowing because they lack a filter, communication skills, and common sense, suck it up and know you wont have to see them again until the next big family function. We all have faults and we all "F" up. Give them that "family pass" and the gift of honest (and respectful) feedback if necessary to help them reflect or realize the impact they are having on you.
Speaking of you, first and foremost it may be a good idea to do some self reflection to make sure you have the impact you really want to have on others. It might make a difference about who chooses to keep in touch with you. Not only do I challenge you to take a hard and honest look at yourself and your impact on others, but I'm going to do the same.
Good luck and cheers to keeping it real...if you have the guts. Otherwise, don't worry I'm sure you will keep getting a "family pass". Just remember that whatever you do, whether you like it or not, you do have an impact on others with everything that you do and say...what do you want your impact to be?