One constant about the holiday time of year is the coming together of people who normally don’t interact with each other. This can mean trouble or a time of blessings. What will you get this year?
The holidays have a way of disrupting normal routines, particularly our human interactions. Family members and friends are thrown together, parties connect strangers and turn acquaintances into friends and enemies.
We find our personal space taken up with the energy of others as we rub shoulders with strangers in line or at cocktail parties. Cramped elbow room around the dinner table and the ragged edges of the sleep-deprived couch surfing out-of-towners test our patience.
How do we stay centered when liquor unlocks humor and old resentments and disparate passions co-mingle in chaos? How do we cope with the crowded isolation of being in the wrong company?
Perhaps you are lucky enough to experience the joy of connecting and re-connecting at this time. Being able to touch base with those the ones we love and reaching out to those we miss can make the holidays especially rewarding.
Here are 3 things that make the human side of your holiday time high in “treats” and low in “dramas”.
1. Decide on you
Wanting to control others’ behavior is a sure way to bring about frustration and disappointment during the holidays. You can, however, control your own behavior. It can be tough in the heat of the moment, so plan ahead:
Decide how you want to behave – and stick to it!
Stay sensitive to your own reactions. Notice when you get “triggered” and, in that moment, choose to let it go. Don’t be goaded into being reactive and confrontational if you are aiming to stay calm.
When midway into the family meal, your generally aggravating Uncle George makes his typical stinging remark, try the phrase: “That’s a common perception.” Then change the subject. Treat yourself well by staying true to your intentions.
2. Get the better of yourself
When you’re tempted to get the better of someone else in a situation, turn the tables on yourself instead. Determine how you can get pride, satisfaction or even vindication by not measuring your own worth against the outcome of the discussion.
You cannot control others.
Hoping to do so is draining, trying to do so is demoralizing, and believing you can or do is a mistake. Choosing and directing what you think, feel and do – in spite of others – is true mastery. Practice that and treat yourself to self-direction.
3. Don’t focus on the issue
There are few topics that are actually worth a relationship. We are complex beings and everyone has their quirky, irrational side. Our beliefs and understandings are not necessarily rational, nor are they always totally coherent.
Most arguments arise when an issue becomes more important than the relationship. When we genuinely desire to connect with people, we tend to give them latitude when they are illogical or inconsistent.
Let the relationship to be the focal point and not the topic of the discussion: how to get on with someone in spite of a difference in perspective or opinion.
It may be even easier if the relationship has no value to you or you don’t really care about it, because if that’s the case, there is no point in winning.
These 3 tricks can keep the drama at bay. I’m not saying it is always easy – only that it is possible to keep yourself out of the crises.
Remember that we come together at this time because it matters.
Enjoy the holidays!