Coping With Tension Among Relatives The holiday season brings families together, and often that means holiday stress. BY DR. LESLY DEVEREAUX
Remember that you can control your own emotions.
“ In order to avoid confrontations it is important to deal with your emotions head on.”
"You can choose your friends but not your family."
As clichť as it might sound, the statement relating to family is very true: your family can either be your strength or your weakness. During the holidays family matters seem to take center stage because it is a time when conflicts, money and feelings can be tested. How you choose to handle conflict will determine whether you can actually enjoy one anotherís company during the holidays.
As a minster who counsels families in crisis, life coach, wife and mother, I am keenly aware of issues, which cause tension among relatives. †In order to avoid confrontations it is important to deal with your emotions head on. Listening, communication and compromise is a beginning to a peaceful resolution of conflict when dealing with family members.
1. Be quiet: When conflict occurs if you are the one doing all of the talking it is impossible to hear the other personís point of view. This is a sure way to insure that tensions will escalate because you have decided that your opinion is the only one that matters. Begin any discussion or disagreement from a place of calm, whether you agree with the other person or not, itís important to allow him/her to be heard.
2. Talk it out: A great way to cope with tension is to communicate before family time is to occur. Meet in a mutually agreeable place on neutral territory like a book store or coffee shop. Talk honestly about the issues without making disparaging comments.† Once both sides understand the issue there is room to try and come up with a resolution that is agreeable. Peaceful resolutions always come when people respect each otherís position.
3. Forgive and move on: Unforgiveness is a heavy burden to carry. You become stuck in your past unable to move forward. Bitterness and resentment becomes your friend as opposed to happiness. Release the self-centeredness that festers with unforgiveness and prevents you from going on with your life.
4. Shift the conversation: Stay away from negative talk. If you find yourself or another family member talking about a controversial topic, which can lead to an argument, shift to something lighter and remain neutral. In addition, try to find good things to focus on about family member(s) who cause you to feel negative. When you focus on the negative attributes of a family member you to lose sight of anything positive.
5. Take responsibility for your emotions: Remember, you canít change the behavior of people only how you choose to react. You have total control over you and not your relative. Focus on how you respond in times of tension.
6. Focus on connecting: Your intent should be to foster closeness with you family, never to alienate. This is especially important if you have children. You donít want your children to think it is acceptable to fight and argue with relatives, leaving issues unresolved. If there is tension with your in-laws remember your spouse may not feel the same way and tension may spill over into your marriage if you donít try to resolve it or at least set it aside while the family is together.
7.†This too shall pass: Remember, time with extended family members during the holidays is temporary. Time is better spent finding topics which are mutually agreeable to discuss. Look to happier times, which made everyone laugh and commit to that conversation while your relatives are around.
At the end of the day, you donít have to like your relatives and tension may occur. Take responsibility for your emotions, be kind, cordial and respectful, which sets the stage for a happy, stress-free holiday spent with family.
Author, transformational speaker and life coach, Dr. Lesly Deveraux counsels families in crisis. Wife, mother and daughter, Dr. Lesly Deveraux is keenly aware of issues, which cause tension among relatives.