Fear gripped Tom’s heart. Going home for the holidays was always a crap shoot. Would people get along or end up with hurt feelings and sour memories. The recent election made it even worse. Tom knew his uncle would be all about politics and making sure everyone believed like he did.
Perhaps you are like Tom, gripped by the fears of spending another holiday season with dysfunctional family members. And the recent election has stirred up emotions to the point of splitting families.
Enjoy peace this holiday season by following five simple rules:
Rule 1: Be aware of how much alcohol is being consumed. Too much wine and good judgment is compromised. If you have a problem with alcohol, prepare ahead of time. Ask for help from a trusted family member and then let them help you know when to stop drinking.
If someone else is a problem drinker, know what subjects to avoid and which ones are safe to discuss. Direct the conversation and don’t let yourself be drawn into controversial subjects.
Rule 2: Listen to understand; ask questions to get clarity. Too often we talk when we should listen. When we talk, we try to convince minds already made up. Use questions like: Help me understand the strong points of your position. Or, Where do you think I disagree with that conclusion.
Remember, investigate before advocate.
Rule 3: Treat others as people, not obstacles. Everyone has dreams, hope, hurts and wounds. When you consider the feeling of a person, and respond with kindness, you are treating them as a person.
When you see a person as an obstacle to what you want or not validating your beliefs, you move into a conquer and destroy mentality. Winning becomes the big goal.
What do they need at this moment? When you answer that question, you begin treating them as a person.
Rule 4: Use words that you would want spoken to you. This is a version of the Golden Rule and is very relevant in today’s world of tension and polarized political positions.
Words have the power to wound or heal, to break or make a relationship. Use them wisely, as once spoken it is impossible to retract them.
Rule 5: When tension gets overwhelming, find a quiet place and beg God for help. This is also known as praying. Don’t pray about the other person but ask God to change your heart and how you are seeing them. Pray for new eyes to see them in a new way, as a person with hurts, needs, dreams and desires.
Following these simple rules, you can change the tone of your time with family, encourage others to relate to you in a healthy manner and set a pattern for future family gatherings.
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