It Begins with the Turkey (Or Vegetarian Equivalent)
Merriment, songs, catchy phrases, that's what we hear around this time of the year. It's the holidays! Let's celebrate! The holidays can bring a lot of repressed or hurt feelings. It isn't always joy and peace for all. We know the common taboo topics not to bring up in between bites of turkey or tofurkey: politics, religion, and past grievances. We also know there are other topics that cause ire.
How can you prepare for the holidays and deal with conflict? A couple of tips I suggest at all of my workshops can help you. First, think about 3 things you are grateful for about the person upsetting you. It's harder to stay mad at someone when you are appreciative of them. Second, why did you come? Sure yummy food and pumpkin pie may top your list, but it's usually to see friends, family, colleagues, someone you care about. Remember your "why" for being there. It may be to reconnect, to have human contact after all of the craziness that has been COVID, see an older relative you don't often get to see, play with the nieces or nephews (or Spot the dog, your true favorite), or simply to enjoy a meal with someone you care about.
Be kind to yourself. Honor your feelings in the present. If it's getting difficult to stay engaged in the conversation, you can make the choice to leave OR say you value the person AND would rather discuss the topic at a later date. You are not dismissing the conversation, but you are setting boundaries around the conversation. Give your "why" for being there and focus on the moment. Take deep breaths if needed, go outside for a bit of fresh air, or count to 100 in your head. There are many ways to calm yourself if the holiday meal starts to bring you anxiety. If there is long term hurt or issues that have not been addressed, schedule time to catch up. Take this time to create small moments that will lead to meaningful memories.