Sometimes holidays and family are just hard.
If you’re anything like me, this year you entered the holiday season with a bit more trepidation than normal. It felt like the election season had put a magnifying glass on all of the things upon which I knew I already disagreed with members of my family; this not only made me enter Thanksgiving feeling like it was more likely for these things to come up but I also felt more sensitive to them, like I would be unable to meet people where they were and be compassionate toward their viewpoints.
Since Thanksgiving, I’ve attended 3 holiday parties with family members and, fortunately, I have not had to do very much heavy conversational maneuvering to avoid inflammatory conversation. However, I know that that has not been the case for lots of folks. Additionally, we never know how conversations with other people are going to go until after they have already happened – which is why, heading into a weekend where many people will be gathering with people with whom they may or may not agree entirely, it’s important to have a strategy for navigating those conversations and ensuring that you are taking care of yourself. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who thought about this, as evidenced by this Buzzfeed article that addresses this particular issue. If you’re concerned about how you’re going to navigate conversations with your family at the holidays (or, really, at any time of the year), there are a few things some experts agree you can do to feel more prepared (check on the article for more context and specifics):
- Think about what your realistic expectations are for your own role and conversations.
- Be prepared to express your own thoughts and feelings without shaming others, and be prepared to listen to the thoughts and feelings of others.
- Have a plan for exiting the conversation if it becomes too much.
- Identify additional support folks or safe people to reach out to afterward, if needed.
That third one is what I would like to run through a Green Dot lens for a second. We talk all the time about how effective the 3Ds can be at stopping instances of bullying, dating violence, or sexual violence. I think that the 3Ds are just as useful a tactic when it comes to having those emotionally difficult conversations, too. When I feel like I’m getting nowhere in a conversation (except to a really angry or emotional place – which usually is not helpful or productive), sometimes it’s nice to use one of them to simply change or exit the conversation…
Let us know how you’re using the 3Ds this holiday season to keep the peace amongst your friends and family by calling us out on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook @greendotgcky!
Also, please keep in mind that holidays can be really rough for many people for many reasons. Despite my increase in holiday anxiety this particular year, I’m normally someone who gets pretty excited about the whole season. Many people have lost loved ones, have been hurt or rejected, have been utterly disappointed in how the systems our communities, states, and country have failed them, are unable to spend time with their loved ones, simply don’t like or celebrate holidays, and any other number of things that might make this season feel less than comforting and joyful. I am constantly needing to remind myself that I need to enter interactions with people knowing that this might be their reality – whether that would be someone with whom I’m speaking at a holiday party, a neighbor I don’t really ever see or talk to, a colleague, a friend, or really anyone on social media. If this season is supposed to be about love, let’s truly show up with that and meet people where they are, wherever that is.