For many people, holidays bring up a wide range of old and new emotional pain. One client of mine is spending time with a relative in active addiction; another is facing a belligerent parent. It can be helpful to have some tools at-the-ready when dealing with our most difficult family members. Rather than avoid, attack or accommodate difficult behaviors, here are 3 ideas to de-escalate and practice self-compassion:
- Carefront: A technique in which we are caring and clear about the shared goals and what you need.
“I know we both want to enjoy the holiday, and we’ve been looking forward to it for so long. Can we focus on enjoying our time together rather than worrying about my career choice?”
- Neutralize: Neither agree nor disagree, but make an interior decision to not get hooked. Example provocation: “WOW, you’ve put on so much weight”. Or “I don’t understand how you live in that crime ridden neighborhood and pay that amount of rent.”
“You might be right” or “Good to know”
- Pivot:. Skillfully change the subject.
“I don’t follow politics… what about that driverless car they are building?”
There are innumerable ways to get tripped up at the holidays. The meta-skill here is to not get hooked. Mentally rehearse, find ways to access positive emotions, and remember to find the funny. For those of you not needing these tools, lucky you!
Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that
grows flowers, not thunder.
With Gratitude, Eileen