How to Handle Family Drama: 3 Steps to Go from Anger to Forgiveness

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Note: This post was updated in July 2018 for clarity and additional resources.

No matter how far along the spiritual path we may be, we’re never immune to family drama. You might meditate and surrender every day, but when you get around your family that peace can fall right away.

This is especially true during the holidays and other big get-togethers. In the video below I get real about a mini-meltdown I had during a family get-together. I share how I used my own tools to find my way back to forgiveness and peace.

Every family has some kind of drama

Even the most high-functioning family has complicated dynamics, long histories and disagreements. There’s always one negative person, or a long-standing fight, or that relative who won’t mind their own business.

So if you aren’t great at dealing with family drama, you are not alone. But with these three steps you will feel better and move through family drama with more grace.

Watch the video and then read on for the steps I offer up!

I recorded this video RIGHT after I experienced some serious family drama of my own! This is something that comes out for everybody. Our family can be one of our greatest triggers. I heard this in a 12-step meeting once that your family knows how to push your buttons most because they’re the ones who put them there. And yes, they are.

So let’s get into some steps you can take when family drama gets the best of you.

How to handle family drama in 3 steps

Step 1: Lose your shit

That’s right. Let it out. Don’t stuff it down. Before I could do any healing, I had to completely lose my shit. I lost my shit. I went crazy. I screamed. I cursed. You have to get it out. I believe if you hold on, hold on, hold on, eventually, it will burst. So if you’re ready to get it out, just go for it. Unleash it.

Maybe you don’t have the kind of family where you can all just yell and get it out. If so, that’s okay. Take a walk outside. Go into the basement. Rant and rave for a few minutes. Feel those feelings, even if they aren’t pretty at all.

Tweet: Even spiritual people aren’t immune to family drama. Use these 3 steps to handle it. @gabbybernstein #judgmentdetox

And if you’re not the kind of person who really freaks out, then take the opportunity to just witness your judgment and get real with your feelings. You don’t have to lose your shit to get honest about how you feel.

Once you let it out, you can move on to step 2.

Step 2: Create healthy boundaries

I am a big believer in healthy boundaries. I came back to this blog years after I first recorded the video in December 2014. I’m typing now a few years later to say that I am a boundary EXPERT. I create healthy boundaries, I’m open about them and I stick to them.

This is very important with family. Again, remember they can push all our buttons because they put them there! So speak up truthfully. Create boundaries. Don’t allow yourself to be walked all over. Don’t let other people dictate your experience or your mood or how you want to feel.

We are not our stories, our dramas, or our wrongdoings. We are LOVE. | Gabby Bernstein | Judgment DetoxCreating healthy boundaries is particularly crucial when it comes to the people in your life who can get under your skin the most. And let’s face it, that is often our family! You love them, but you must create clear and healthy boundaries.

You can love and accept someone without sticking around

If you have a family member who is self-destructive or who can hurt you emotionally, then that boundary needs to be very firm. You might have to say, “If you choose to go in that direction, I may not be there to support you.” That is a hard thing to say to somebody that you’re close to, but I think it’s a healthier choice. Enabling the people in our lives does not serve them or us.

Create your boundaries with love and compassion, and express them with kindness. It’s very important to know that you can deeply love someone and forgive them for the ways they’ve hurt you, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick around.

I am a big believer in healing judgment. I wrote a whole book about it. And if you have a difficult family or a family member who causes you a lot of pain and hurt, this book is a must read. Heal that judgment and accept that person right where they are, but create that boundary.

Step 3: Be willing to forgive

Even when you know that you can’t forgive right away because you’re so angry, just be open and willing to forgive. That slight willingness to be in the intention of forgiveness will allow it to come forth when the time is right.

When you are released and when you have surrendered to the guidance of the Universe, you will receive the ability to forgive. Even if you have no idea how you’ll get there, or you can’t possibly fathom how you could forgive a situation, just be open. Just pray for it. Say, “Thank you, Universe, for helping me forgive.”

Even in the midst of chaos and drama, we can choose to forgive. Choosing forgiveness sets us free. Healing our judgment sets us free. Be open to it, ask for it and trust that you’ll get there.

Try my free Judgment Detox Mini Course

Free Judgment Detox Mini Course by Gabby Bernstein

Are you ready to heal judgment, restore love and feel free? Try my FREE Judgment Detox Mini Course to practice some of the core techniques of my Judgment Detox method. You’ll start to feel relief from judgment right away. Get it free here!

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  1. Perfect timing that I came across this blog at a time I was struggling with a family dramas that was dragging me down. This has given me tools to get through the situation. Thank you universe for guidance.

  2. So helpful! I have a lot of family pain, and recently set a boundary- but feeling guilty and confused if it is right. Just read The Universe Has Your Back, and trying to think through the lens of ceasing judgment; not sure how to balance forgiveness towards my family and not feeling I can handle contact with them. This post definitely helped. It is going to be hard to get to a place of forgiveness, but hope for that one day. I can try to just open myself a little bit like stated above. And will read Judgment Detox next!

    1. This is beautiful Jessica. Plesae be patient and gentle with yourself as you implement these practices. You’re doing great. XOX

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