For many families living in the United States, this holiday season may be a difficult one. Following one of the most divisive and nasty presidential elections in US history, tensions will likely be high when we gather at the holidays. Whether your family is one who can talk openly about hot topics like politics, or chooses to “agree to disagree” to keep the peace, it’s going to be tough to keep drama at bay. Here are five tips for keeping yourself sane this holiday season.
1. Focus on commonalities
This election has been focused almost exclusively on what divides candidates and people. With family and friends, you have so much more that unites you, that you have in common. Don’t let your party affiliation or candidate preference cause amnesia for the wonderful things you have in common.
2. Show curiosity
Whether you agree or disagree, asking curious questions helps lower tensions. People mostly just want to be heard. It’s much more important to listen curiously to them than to agree with them. When people don’t feel heard, that’s usually when they escalate.
3. Be open and own your feelings
It’s OK to share your feelings as long as you don’t blame someone else for them. Saying, “I am excited for what’s coming,” or “I am uncertain of what will happen next,” is very different than saying, “Hillary infuriates me,” or “Trump scares me.” If you don’t want to talk about hot topics, it’s OK to say, “I am very uncomfortable talking about this.”
4. Set kind boundaries
Avoiding drama if it has negative consequences for you is still drama. It’s more healthy to set a boundary. Saying, “I prefer not to talk about politics. Will you please respect this?” is assertive, while hiding out in your bedroom to avoid your radical uncle is drama. Although, you gotta love this SNL skit about using a trip to Target as an excuse to escape drama.
5. Express gratitude
If we indulge our pessimistic side, it’s easy to focus on all the things going wrong and how things are unfair. Optimism and gratitude are disciplines that can be cultivated and practiced. When you are together this holiday, and every day, identify and share what you are grateful for. No matter how small, it is good for the soul to be thankful. Here’s an article by Michael Hyatt describing what other well-known names such as Tony Robbins and John Maxwell do to practice gratitude.
There is no easy way through the unrest and upheaval we are experiencing in our world today. I truly believe we won’t make it if we continue to divide and attack and blame each other. This applies to family too. This holiday, practice the behaviors and attitudes that align and unite, and you will have a lot more positive energy.
Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2016
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