This is the time of year many of us connect or re-connect with family and/or friends over meaningful holiday meals and festive gatherings. For those of us blessed with healthy relationships we look forward to the holiday season with excitement and joy. However, for those of us with strained familial relationships or are in new relationships where we’re meeting family for the first time, the holidays can bring feelings of dread and insecurity.
Being an introverted, quirky and sensitive personality, I know first-hand how holiday gatherings can feel incredibly overwhelming. In order to feel calmer in settings where I know I will be interacting with people I may not have things in common with or know well, I created what I call a “What Would Love Do?” list of things to remember prior to going to a social gathering.
Since some of you may also find this time of year stressful I thought I’d share my strategy with you with the intention of bringing a little ease to your holiday season.
Here are a few things I believe Love Would Do in social settings:
- Accept we each have the right to our personal beliefs, even if what we hear from others doesn’t match our own
- Comprehend we are all doing the best we can to get our needs met based on what we have learned and believe
- Encourage us to feel safe being our unique selves (even if we are a bit chatty and a little klutzy)
- Give permission to leave the gathering whenever feelings of exhaustion, overwhelm, irritation, etc. internally indicate it is time to leave
- Invite others to share life stories and personal successes by asking sincere and respectful questions about their life experiences
- Know we are each on our own personal learning curve in life and understand it isn’t our place to tell others where they should or shouldn’t be on that learning curve
- See conflicting opinions as an opportunity to affirm our personal core belief system or an opportunity to evolve our beliefs if it feels right
- Spread verbal kindness and avoid offering constructive/destructive criticism
- Straightforwardly protect personal boundaries if criticism becomes the tone of the conversation. Love knows it is not a doormat
- Support the freedom to choose to share beliefs or keep them private
- Understand sarcasm kills relationships and is always best left unspoken
The What Would Love Do list above may seem like common sense at first glance, but could come in handy to remember when holiday conversations become infused with alcohol, when passionate political stances are aggressively shared, when unresolved differences are aired at the dinner table, etc. Hopefully your holiday gatherings are filled with humor, joy and kindness.
Wishing you, your families and those you love a safe and happy holiday season!!