How to Protect Your Own Happiness During the Holidays

It can be difficult to navigate holiday celebrations when you have family members who are narcissistic or emotionally deficient. That puts your own holiday happiness at risk!

You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells, never quite sure what will set them off. Or, like you have to continually give up your own preferences to accommodate them. As long as  you are in the same family or social group, you are going to have to deal with their drama. It’s important to remember that you are not responsible for their behavior, and you cannot change them,  AND that you matter, too.

So, fortunately, there are some things you can do to make the situation more bearable.

Here are some tips for protecting your own happiness when surrounded with narcissistic or emotionally deficient family members during the holidays:

-Try to avoid talking about sensitive topics.

If you know there are certain things that will set off your Hijackal, try to steer clear of those topics of conversation. Why poke the bear, right? If you have family members who tend to argue or get upset easily, focus on topics that everyone can agree on, such as favorite holiday memories or traditions. If a disagreement does arise, calmly defuse the situation by changing the subject or walking away. By keeping the peace during holiday gatherings, you can help ensure that everyone –including you– enjoys the season.

-Don’t take their bait.

If the Hijackal tries to pick a fight or get under your skin, don’t engage. Rise above it and don’t stoop to their level. Family holidays can be a minefield for adults with narcissistic parents. No matter how old you are, it can be tough to deal with a parent who is always trying to start arguments or undermine you. The best thing you can do is to refuse to engage. This can be difficult, especially if you’re already feeling overwhelmed by just the regular holiday stresses. By remaining calm and focusing on your own happiness, you can take the power back from your narcissistic parent and enjoy the holiday season.


Are you seeing a theme here? You are responsible for your own happiness, so focus on protecting that. If at times, it feels like pleasing, appeasing or soothing the Hijackals is the right thing go ahead, but do not make them the centre of your attention. If staying quiet or backing out of potential arguments is how you need to preserve your own enjoyment of the holidays… do that!


-Set boundaries.

You may (will) need to be firm with the Hijackal(s) and set some boundaries in order to protect yourself from their hurtful words or actions. PLAN to stand strong with your self-absorbed mother, or your challenging ex-partner. It is also important to have realistic expectations and not put yourself in a situation where you know you will be emotionally overwhelmed. If this is your first holiday time with new family, and you’re not sure, it’s a perfect time to establish your limits, and then kindly, confidently express them so they’re clear from the start.

-Focus on the positive.

There may be some good moments amidst all the drama. Try to focus on those and cherish them. Yes, things may go wrong from time to time, but ultimately, the holiday season is about spending time with those you care about. Don’t provide feedback or validation when the Hijackal in your midst tries to undermine the celebration and focus it back on themselves. Redirect to the fun that the rest of the group are having, or the great food you’re sharing.

-Take care of yourself.

Holidays with Hijackals are always going to be a difficult situation, and highly stressful. Schedule in some time for things that make you happy and help you relax. This may mean saying no to some invitations in order to have more time for yourself. It’s okay to choose your own happiness and well-being, especially during difficult times. Consider things like getting exercise, spending time outside, reading, journaling, or smaller gatherings with chosen family. Whatever brings you joy, make sure to schedule in some time for it this holiday season. Self-care is essential for maintaining your mental and emotional health.

Dealing with narcissistic or emotionally deficient family members during the holidays can be tough. Rise above the drama, set boundaries, and take care of yourself.


What folks have said…

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