As the song goes, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” For many, spending time and reconnecting with family and friends is the best part of this time of year, but as is the nature of human relationships, there is more likely than not going to be some level of conflict as we spend time together.
I can remember several holiday gatherings in my own life that were more uncomfortable than they were joyous because of conflicts within our family. Fortunately, as I have gotten older, many of those issues have faded and getting together with my family has become a much more pleasant experience.
While I like my wife’s family a lot, marrying her 13 years ago introduced me to a new set of relationships and conflicts. My in-laws, or the out-laws as I mostly jokingly refer to them, come with their own set of challenges for me to navigate as we gather together. As I interact with them, there are a couple things that I try to keep in mind from The Mandt System that I believe help things go better.
The first is the quote we talk about from Haim Ginott. “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the environment.” Over the years, I have learned that no matter how bad a situation may seem, that I have a lot of power to make it better or worse depending on how I choose to interact with the people involved. I have found this to be true not only in my personal life but in my professional life as well.
The second is that in order to make a situation better, I have to manage myself first and choose a response that builds people up instead of tearing people down. This means that, in the moment, I have to manage my own frustration and respond in a more positive way than I may have initially wanted.
Below is a link to an article with some ideas of how to cope when family gatherings are difficult.
Wishing you all a happy, low conflict holidays!
Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty
4 Ways to Survive Holidays With the Family