Can you believe it’s that time of year already? The Halloween candy barely left the shelves when the Christmas trees went up and holiday songs flooded the radio.
Although the basis for most holidays this time of year is love, gratitude, giving and kindness, it is still the most stressful time of the year. There is pressure for everything to be perfect. The shopping malls and grocery stores are slammed with people just as if not more stressed out as you. You are worried about not leaving anyone out of any of your holiday plans. Your calendar is filled with events, and all you want to do is snuggle up under the covers.
And then there are the impending family gatherings, which include those relatives with VERY different beliefs than yours. You know, the ones you try to avoid the rest of the year and mute on Facebook, only looking at their profile occasionally when you want to see what the “other side” thinks? The stress and anxiety from the anticipation of the dinner conversation alone may have you contemplating a fake illness or work emergency (but wait, didn’t you already do that last year?). It’s a good time of year to visit Antarctica, right?
Take a deep breath. And once you have, take one more for good measure. Then, check out these five tips to help you navigate those uncomfortable conversations this holiday season.
- Up your self-care game.
Start this right now. Meditation, journaling, exercise, a good night’s sleep. Whatever keeps you sane and centered, make sure you are stocked up on it. Being around family can be very triggering, even for the most enlightened. Make sure you arrive prepared and well-rested with a full cup.
- Just breathe.
If a difficult subject comes up and you feel your anxiety kicking in, pause and take a deep breath before doing anything else. This gives you a chance to reset and think clearly. Instead of reacting the same way you have every other year, you can choose a new, calmer, kinder approach.
- Don’t try to change anyone’s opinion.
This is like attempting to lift an elephant. No matter how hard you try and how badly you want to, it’s not happening.
- Stay curious.
Ask sincere questions about why your relative believes in what they do and listen to their responses with an open mind. Again, your purpose is not to change someone’s beliefs or opinions or to debate their reasoning, but to gain a better understanding of why they believe what they do. Understanding someone’s point of view is different than agreeing with them. You don’t have to agree with someone to understand where they are coming from.
- Remember what is important.
Remember the love, gratitude, giving and kindness that is the real basis for the holiday season? Keep that in mind as you enter each event, engagement or conversation. Set an intention for the type of energy you want to bring in and check in with yourself from time to time to make sure you are in alignment with your intentions.
I hope that having these tools makes you feel more confident going into the holiday season that you will be able to handle any uncomfortable conversations. Although we may not agree with everything our family believes in, we all have the same basic human needs. As Oprah says, we all want to know that you see me, you hear me, and what I say matters. By listening instead of being defensive and combative, you may be giving your relatives the greatest gift of all.