How to Prepare for a Holiday Relational Blizzard
We do not have to go through the holidays avoiding family gatherings because we are anxious about someone saying something ugly to us. Hold steady through a relational blizzard. If you have been fearful or discouraged due to relational conflict—may your heart be light and soul encouraged as you read.
Before a family gathering or holiday event . . .
- Consider the pros and cons of attending an event.
- Do not assume a tense atmosphere will be present at the event or attribute it to a particular person.
- If you decide to attend, set time limits and have your own transportation.
- Remember that you cannot change anyone!
- Try not to replay negative scripts from the past but enjoy the moment knowing that you have changed and others can too.
During an incident at a family gathering or holiday event . . .
- Hurting people (confused, rejected, jealous, or threatened) make shocking and outrageous comments based on limited perception. Any of us are capable of irrational responses.
- Try not to take comments personally especially when it is not true. We cannot control what others feel.
- Your loved one may be experiencing intense blinding emotions, searching for reassurance for their survival and need for security, identify and belonging. Consider letting the comment go until a better opportunity presents itself.
- Take deep breaths to increase calm to give yourself a moment to find a good response.
- Pay attention to your words and external behaviors remembering to be a good role model.
- You may need to look to others who can help your loved one return to calm or provide additional assistance for safety.
- Distinguish between how you may have triggered a strong emotion without causing it.
- Listen and validate your loved one’s feelings and partial truths without correcting, defending, fixing, judging or using irrational pleading. Reinforce areas where you are in agreement.
- Try to identify your own feelings without alienating your loved one.
- Remember the reasons you are both at the event and that your loved one’s emotional pain will probably not be healed today.
- Remember your right to be respected and ask for clarification if you believe it will prevent further harm.
- Reinforce factual truths.
After an incident at a family gathering or holiday event . . .
- Use your right to leave, driving when you are calm.
- Take care of yourself by fixing a cup of tea or doing some type of menial (tedious) task.
- Remind yourself how abusing alcohol can escalate a situation.
- Remember your loved ones intrinsic value, strengths and role in the family.
- Do not fear that others can rob you of your dream.
- Do not do things for your loved one that they can do for themselves.
- At the appropriate time, consider apologizing for your part in the conflict and suggest seeking professional assistance
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!
Author: Beth Holloway, MA LPC with permission to post on Rosario Counseling & Associates
Beth Holloway, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Rosario Counseling & Associates and has more than 12 years’ experience in the mental health field. She 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 is still learning about people from diverse cultures and ethnic groups.
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