Blessed are the Peacemakers
The holiday season brings much anticipation of spending time with family and friends we may not see during the rest of the year. Unfortunately, not all of our holiday gatherings will be similar to those depicted on the Hallmark Channel. I recently had a friend tell me that she knew it was the holiday season when she was spending more money at the liquor store than she was on groceries! (Of course, we do not encourage alcohol or substance abuse as a way of “dealing with” these.)
Given that this can, unfortunately, be a very stressful time for a number of people, it helps to anticipate and try to plan for the possibility of these negative interactions and how you will handle them in a positive way. The following are a few steps to consider:
Plan to be kind.
It is unfortunate that kindness may be something we have to be deliberate about, especially in a stressful situation. I often tell people that I do not need any continuing education when it comes to being self-centered or prideful – I’m pretty good at those naturally! If we go into a situation deciding “who we are going to be” with regard to being kind, patient and encouraging, this can make a significant difference in interactions with others.
Find areas where you agree.
Recognize that some of the people you talk with may have strong opinions pertaining to certain topics. It can be helpful to choose to not pursue these topics, and if they do come up, try to find similar values. For example, if the topic of school shootings is discussed, even though you may disagree on how to address, finding the commonality concerning the overall safety of children may be the answer to a healthy discussion. Try to recognize that you may not be able to change other viewpoints and that a conversation may simply be an opportunity to share views and not convince others that your view is the best.
Try to remain calm and relaxed.
Try to prepare ahead of time, recognizing that some individuals or conversations can lead to tense feelings. If you go into a situation with this self-awareness, you can recognize when your frustration level is increasing and take steps to reduce this tension. Sometimes simply stepping back and taking a few slow, deep breaths will help you remain calm. Recognize that you have the ability to control your emotions and your reactions.
Recognize that it is okay to disagree with someone.
You, of course, are not going to agree with everyone. Sometimes it is hard to accept that friends or loved ones have opposing ideologies, but it is important not to assign negative attributes to them because of their differences. Even if you cannot agree, continue to participate in activities that you enjoy together.
Be deliberate and recognize that holiday events are about bringing people together and not driving them apart. Try to focus on good memories and what you and your family have in common. Try to plan activities that foster more fun and laughter.
We may not all have Hallmark holidays, but with some planning and anticipation, we can work toward having more positivity, kindness and making good memories. There is a lot of wisdom to “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
(Some information used in this article is based on information provided by www.apa.org)
Information on this page should be utilized as a guide, not medical advice. If you feel you need to speak with someone regarding counseling or mental health, please contact Psychology & Counseling to make an appointment.
At Psychology & Counseling, we offer counseling and mental health assessments. Following diagnosis, we work with you to determine the best course of treatment and counseling for you. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at (601) 261-1650.