Part of holiday stress may come from the dread of family gatherings where there has been past disagreements, quarrels and disappointments. Here are ten ways to help reduce possible fear and promote internal peace for holiday family conflict:
- Try to see through rather than just looking at: There is a great probability that a loved one will attend our Holiday event dressed in sexy attire, intoxicated or exhibit some other obnoxious behavior. Listening to them may help us discover their unmet need for love and acceptance. Realize that knowledge of wrong doing does not make us the family sheriff who is responsible for fixing.
- Be aware of placing our burdens on people who are not part of the solution.
- Remind ourselves that not everyone will understand our disappointments or our perspectives. Sometimes being true to ourselves means disappointing our loved one.
- Emphasize the strengths and positive family values and let rumors die.
- Remain open to new traditions and ways of celebrating. Traditions such as gift exchange or meal planning are valuable but sometimes they can prevent harmony.
- Let the peace fall rather than attempting to manufacture it. Perhaps the best solution when we find ourselves in tense conversations is to be silent.
- Love covers: remembering that anyone can change, including ourselves. This makes room for new beginnings in relationships.
- Keeping our shield up with those who speak hurtful words can also reduce anxiety.
- There is wisdom in waiting before attempting to vindicate ourselves to prevent damage to innocent family members. Fighting fire with fire means everyone gets burned.
- Be a good role model of compassion and humility to the next generation.
If someone offends you at your next family gathering, you might want to sing the following phrase to the tune of “Let It Snow.”
O the feeling inside is frightful,
When family can be so spiteful.
But as long as God loves me so . . .
Let it go, Let it go, Let it go!
Beth Holloway, MA, LPCA is a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate and has more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health field. She has recently joined the Miller Counseling Services team and specializes in counseling individuals and couples who have experienced all types of losses including abuse, domestic strife, and trauma. She enjoys leading group therapy classes in the areas of Divorce Recovery, Spiritual Enrichment, Couples and Parent/Child Relationships, Grief Processing and Depression Recovery. Beth has had the privilege of traveling all over the United States and to more than 10 foreign countries and has been enriched by learning about people from diverse cultures and ethnic groups.