7 signs you’re actually the one creating drama in your family

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Are your family gatherings constantly filled with testy, complicated emotions? 

You’re definitely not alone. 

For those of us who didn’t grow up with the Brady Bunch, we often carry baggage from our less-than-perfect childhoods that, despite time and circumstance, tends to linger. 

We therefore can be easily triggered when around family for prolonged durations. 

Something innocuously said by a relative, for instance, might cause a chain reaction, opening a bag (or two) of worms in the process.

But what if I told you, you could be a part of the problem? That maybe you play a role in stirring up family drama. 

Self-awareness is key here. But sometimes, it can take an objective party (in this case, me) to make you see things clearly.

Let’s dive in! 

1) You like to gossip 

Family and gossip are almost always synonymous, in my experience. 

After all, venting to a mutual relative about someone within the family makes sense—they know who you’re talking about as well as you do. 

Maybe they’ll be able to relate and agree with your observations with a similar conviction as you.

However, once your sharing (and exaggerating) of personal stories or secrets between family members becomes a pattern, this is a ripe breeding ground for mistrust and conflict. 

If you have an issue with one family member, make an effort to address it with them directly. 

Otherwise… let it go.

The last thing you want to do is concoct scenarios where family members are forced to take sides, turning disagreements into bigger, avoidable conflicts. 

Once everyone catches on, they’ll know the real culprit of all the drama–this is not the position you want to be in. 

2) You often react emotionally

I get it, being around family for an extended amount of time can be triggering

A few hours around them and suddenly, you’re feeling like a helpless, wronged child again, dormant emotions resurfaced and all. 

Hence, you might react to seemingly trivial incidents or disagreements with intense emotion, like yelling, crying hysterically, or storming out of the room. 

I suppose it’s understandable to have some complicated feelings towards family–but at a certain point, you have to leave the past in the past and move forward. 

3) You tend to hold grudges 

Here’s the thing: we tend to be less forgiving with family since we somehow have loftier standards for them compared to the average person. 

But the thing about family is, just like you and I, they’re human; they’re vulnerable to the same shortcomings and grievances as the rest of humanity. 

If you find yourself often bringing up past mistakes, even when they’re not that relevant to the current situation, this hinders your growth as a family unit. 

Like many siblings in the world, my two sisters and I have plenty of leftover trauma from our youth.

Although my younger sister and I still have some angst towards my parents, we try our best to be civil and to see past it, to let bygones be bygones. 

We try to have empathy, even though it’s sometimes a challenge. 

Our parents aren’t saints or beacons of morality, they never were. But these days, we can see that they’re trying to be better–and for us, that’s what counts. 

My older sister however is painfully unforgiving. She holds onto practically every single moment of childhood trauma with a crippling grip. 

Sadly, she still refuses to speak to my parents apart from the occasional monosyllabic text once or twice a year. 

We hope that one day she’ll crack, so we can move on as a family; but that doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future. 

4) You always play the victim

I periodically come across people in life who seem to be perpetual victims, whether with family or without them. 

Even in scenarios where there’s shared blame, this type of person will reframe events so that they constantly come across as the mistreated party, refusing to take any kind of accountability. 

When it comes to family disputes, there are almost always two sides to the coin, from my experience. 

So instead of assuming the role of the innocent victim, always seek to communicate and understand first. 

Trust me, the world would be a far more harmonious place with a bit more communication–something that very much extends to your relationship with family members. 

5) You refuse to apologize 

Speaking of having too much pride, refusing to apologize is another telltale sign of a drama-attracting family member. 

Even when they’re presented with crystal clear evidence and feedback that their actions have negatively affected someone, they’ll rarely offer a genuine apology or own up to their wrongdoing. 

Take it from GOAT tragedian, Sophocles: “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.”

6) You interrupt or dominate conversations 

Real talk: family time is about sharing, about give and take. 

When you monopolize family discussions, constantly maneuvering to steer the topic back to yourself and disregarding others’ perspectives, this behavior is bound to alienate a few relatives, and for good reason. 

Nobody likes a selfish conversationalist, whether you are related or not. 

Maybe you think your family will always be there, that they love you unconditionally and therefore you can behave however you want, regardless of how unpleasant. 

All I have to say to that is: don’t push it. 

7) You’re a bit too much of a contrarian 

Your time with your family is limited, so it’s best to make the most of it by generally being respectful and loving. 

Sure, you can disagree on occasion, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it. 

Then, there are the folks who are just inherently contrarian, that always have something to say to oppose family decisions or opinions–not because they genuinely disagree but because they enjoy the extra attention and like to appear superior

My dad’s sister is like this. It makes our weekly family lunches unnecessarily stressful. 

Sometimes, you just have to let your family be, accepting that’s just who they are, their limitations and all. 

She doesn’t seem to share this mentality. 

She likes to think of herself as a holier-than-thou, high-brow woman. Hence, she regularly counters the opinions and thoughts of us Philistines with her trademark contrarian spin on things. 

And if she’s not trying to rebut what we’re actually saying with an opposing, “enlightened” viewpoint, she’s angrily lecturing us on how we can be “better humans.”

Instead of acceptance or tolerance, she chooses combativeness. I guess you can call her a perpetual devil’s advocate.

So if this sounds like you, then it’s time to shift that energy, to live and let live! 

Final thoughts

Nobody is perfect–a universal truth that extends to our families. 

Sure, we can maintain idealized expectations for our family and invariably be disappointed, habitually reliving the traumas of our formative years–or we can move on from past hurts, and accept the situation (and the people in it) for what it is. 

This act in itself is powerful and will help us heal. 

Maybe true wisdom means acceptance, not chasing unrealistic ideals. 

So, perhaps it’s time to start seriously reflecting on your behavior and its impact on your family dynamics. 

Consult a professional, if necessary. Get to the root of things.

After all, we only have one family and our time with them is limited–make the most of it, drama-free!

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