The holidays are almost here! It’s hard to believe!! Are you getting ready for all the dinners, parties, presents, travel, family functions? While the holidays can be a joyful time, they can also be a stressful time and anxious time. I’m wondering if you’re feeling anxious about conversations that might be had during the holiday festivities? Worried about what to say? Dreading having to talk with Aunt Julie or Uncle Bob? How do you navigate those awkward, uncomfortable, or difficult conversations that invariable show up during the holidays? We often think, if she would only… or if he would only…..but we can’t change or control others. We can control ourselves.
We can control how we show up in conversations, the space we create, how we listen, how we respond, the stories we tell ourselves.
What if conversations could be different this year? What if you could release some of the anxiety or dread about the conversations you think might occur? What if you could redirect, refocus, or reframe the conversations in the moment so they don’t turn into something ugly? As you embark on the holidays and as you’re looking to engage in meaningful, peaceful, life-giving conversations, consider these strategies:
Be Conscious. Notice the stories or dread you are creating or anticipating. When we’re conscious or aware of the negative stories we’re telling ourselves about a situation that hasn’t happened yet or a person we haven’t seen yet; we can rewrite or suspend those stories in an effort to minimize the stress and anxiety we feel. Consider the “truth” or “facts” of the stories you are telling yourself. Ask yourself, are these things really the truth or facts, or am I making assumptions or interpretations? If we spin in the negativity of past experiences our brain gets hijacked with stress hormones that make it difficult for us to think logically, creatively, and with good judgement. If we are hijacked by these stressors, we cannot engage in healthy conversations.
Be Connected. Work hard at being present with the people you are with this holiday season. Besides putting technology aside, be present by listening to connect with others, really hear them and understand them. As humans we typically default to judgement or rejection. When we’re listening to connect we suspend judgement or rejection. If you feel yourself drifting from the conversation, refocus by getting curious and asking a question, or if things are getting awkward or uncomfortable, redirect the conversation by acknowledging the awkwardness or discomfort with caring and kindness.
Be Composed. We can’t control how others show up but we can control ourselves. If we are composed; calm, caring, kind, and compassionate it will influence the space that we are in with others. If others get overly excited or aggressive, rather than responding with the same, choose to acknowledge the change in the environment and that you’d like to return to a peaceful conversation or discontinue in order for everyone to be able to enjoy the time together.
Just as we prepare for the holiday meal or the holiday gift giving, we need to prepare for those conversations that we anticipate might get in the way of us enjoying our time with loved ones. If we prepare or “script” our responses or reactions to possible situations we might encounter, we can be Conscious, Connected, and Composed so that we can engage in positive, peaceful, and meaningful conversations. During the holidays no one likes to show up empty handed; without a housewarming gift or a dessert to pass. Don’t show up without a few strategies to help you navigate those difficult or awkward conversations.