Holidays are a chance to reconnect and bond with family and friends over warm meals and fun conversations…. or is it not? Unfortunately holidays nowadays are fraught with anxiety, unresolved family feuds and ill-disguised favouritism. Therefore, instead of bonding over mugs of hot chocolate and pecan pies, we end up dreading the upcoming season thus fuelling our anxiety and setting up the stage for disaster. So how do we avoid conflict during stressful holiday events? By simply being aware of not repeating past patterns of behaviour that could lead to a vicious cycle of conflict. Below are nine points to keep in mind during the holiday season to avoid and prevent holiday- associated conflicts and drama.
1 || Pause
A simple yet very important point to remember during the holidays is to just pause. If a situation arises that makes you think… here-we-go-again….and you fall prey to the possibility of repeating family conflicts, just pause for a second. You have to pause to be able to think before going into battle mode. Visualise a different explanation to the situation, which will prompt you to act and behave differently, and therefore creating a different outcome than the one you’re used to having.
2 || Remove Yourself
You started with hitting pause, you gave yourself space to think and analyse the situation and to behave differently. Should you feel that your efforts are bound to be fruitless, simply and subtly remove yourself from the conversation.
3 || Learn To Respond Instead Of Reacting
When you are able to distinguish between reacting to a situation …often poorly… and between being able to respond with wisdom … you would be creating boundaries with love instead of getting hijacked to another unwanted confrontation.
4 || Engage In Productive Conflict Management Strategies
Enforce a positive attitude and provide face-saving opportunities for others during difficult moments. Meanwhile refrain from self-destructive behaviours such as conflict avoidance, blaming others, and bossing others around during moments of conflict.
5 || Form Alliances
Find a favorite cousin or a sibling who is wise enough and privy to inner family dramas and who can act as your ally during family get togethers. Plan together a secret code so you can help each other out during tough spots acting as preservers for each other.
6 || Reflect & Resist
Prior to meeting up with family members and friends try and reflect on past events and do some soul searching to find out how you could or may have diffused a volatile situation. Reflect on how, why, and under what conditions we may have participated and contributed to the family conflict. When you better understand the dynamics, you will be able to resist the pull of such conflicts and accept that you did have a part albeit historically.
7 || Venture Out
Why not grab the chance of the upcoming holidays to tame the beasts and actually invite family members to openly discuss previous conflicts in the hopes that bygones will be bygones. Aim to be the person who suggests a cease-fire and a truce this holiday season.
8 || Create New Rituals
Families resist change that’s why it’s always too easy to fall back into old patterns of behaviour. This is why it is crucial to create new family rituals so that you can create new and better memories.
9 || Recognise Financial Stress
Put a limit on holiday spending which can also be a huge aspect of holiday stress and can cause major conflicts during the holidays. Make it about the act of giving and not about the materialistic aspect of the presents.
10 || Forgive Yourself
Acknowledge your feelings and your limitations. Don’t try to be everything for everyone as you will burn yourself out ahead of time and set the tone for disaster. Aim to keep a realistic schedule and work with your energy levels without spreading yourself too thin.