Marjorie Hobbs, LPC, LPCS
Palmetto Health Behavioral Care Day Treatment
So here we go! The holiday season is upon us and, for most Americans, this is a time for reconnecting with family near and far. Spending time with extended family may be sentimental for some, but for many, these gatherings also are incredibly stress-inducing. It’s not always easy to jump right back into relationships with loved ones that we haven’t seen in a long time. We have changed, they have changed—or maybe they haven’t—and therein lies the rub. And as the public mood and discourse in the United States continues to devolve into greater distrust, accusation and conflict, the American family’s conversations include more potential mine fields than ever before. It can be difficult to avoid hot-button issues with new ones arriving by the hour. Are you wondering how you can keep your family’s communication merry and bright this holiday season? Here are three tips that may help:
Keep things in perspective –
Focusing on what is most important in the moment gives clarity and meaning to your family interactions. Ask yourself, “What is more important to me in this moment. . .my relationship and quality of communication with this loved one, or is it winning this argument, or changing this person’s mind?” Sometimes it’s better to let things go.
Maintain boundaries –
“Boundaries” is a bit of a buzzword these days, and that’s a good thing. Creating space for yourself to unwind and decompress, saying no and knowing your own limits are all vital to a successful holiday season. However, when it comes to disagreements with family, whether it’s about politics or deciding whether the turkey should be fried or baked, it is helpful to acknowledge that your loved one has a right to their opinion, even if you are sure they are misguided. Maintaining boundaries means respecting your right to be your own person, but it also means respecting the other person’s right as well.
Practice gratitude –
Remembering and being thankful for what you have, rather than what you don’t have, keeps you positive and creates space for love even in the most difficult situations and relationships. Looking for the blessings can sometimes be a challenge, but it’s a search that pays a big reward in the end. Practicing gratitude can help you look beyond disagreements, irritations and differences to see the beauty in a person or a situation that you may not have otherwise seen.
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