Happy almost-thanksgiving! The holiday season is finally upon us, but not all of us are as excited about it this year as we usually are. As we saw on November 8, the country is divided, and many of us haven’t been able to have conversations with people we disagree with. At least not without being, to say the least, annoyed.
You’re not alone. I know exactly what you’re feeling.
The truth is, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren’t going to be any more fun trying to convince uncle Nigel that climate change isn’t a hoax made up by the Chinese. But it’s hard to bite your tongue. So, if it comes up, here are some of my favorite ways to deal with these disagreements.
Be prepared to listen
A tough one for most of us, but many arguments can be avoided by trying to listen to the other person. Even if they voted something else than you, they are real people with real concerns for America, just like you. Even if you disagree, try to listen to those concerns before voicing your own.
Use ‘I’ instead of ‘you’
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received, even outside of situations like this: go light on the accusations. Say ‘I have trouble understanding how someone can vote for a candidate who said these things about women like myself’ or ‘I feel really said when you talk to my like I’m racist’. If you’ve ever been in couple or family therapy, you’ve heard of this approach before. It is simple, but it works.
Let it go if you have to
This is tough especially for people like myself, who sometimes blurt out things without thinking about it. But the truth is, sometimes it’s better to bite your tongue if your family relationships might suffer. I’m all for educating others and explaining to them why I feel a certain way, but it is not worth to fight over it during a Thanksgiving meal. If anything, maybe call a specific relative afterwards to voice your concerns and express your feelings.
You are not obligated to visit your family
Despite what anyone might think, you are not obligated to spend your time with people you do not want to spend time with. Yes, family is family, and most of the time there will be some way to work though disagreements. But unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. If you feel like you’re going to feel uncomfortable around your family or will have trouble biting your tongue, it might be better to skip out on the holiday all together.
Try to remember that no matter how sad, mad or disappointed we are about our lives or the world, there is always joy to be found. The holidays are the perfect moment to seek some of that joy!
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