We are in the middle of the holiday season where families come together for various celebrations. These are moments that we look forward to and are often filled with holiday traditions, childhood nostalgia, and family members that we have not seen in some time. But, what do you when you sit down for dinner and a family member brings up a loaded topic? And, how do you respond when someone asks that awkward question: Are you still out of work? How are the grades this term? When will you set the wedding date?
Do you shrink in your chair, become defensive, or plan your escape route?
While the holiday season may bring abundance and joy, few families are exempt from difficult conversations and intense emotions. If you find yourself in a situation that feels particularly challenging or emotional, remember to step back, breathe and give yourself a break before you take action.
A few tips to remember include: (1) accept family members as they are. When you accept them exactly as they are, your resistance and inner battle dies down. Acceptance doesn’t mean approving of, or condoning their actions. It simply means you stop expecting them to be different than they are. (2) Don't take disapproval personally. If someone disapproves or critiques your job, your partner, your lifestyle, try to keep in mind the comments reflect their worldview. They get to choose their behaviors, and what they choose is always more a function of their experiences and their worldview than it is about you. (3) Finally, when tension is high, don’t let your emotions be overtaken by anyone else in the room. Decide how you want to feel and consciously decide to feel that way. Being calm and peaceful and having gratitude for what is working well in your life is your best asset in any stressful situation.