Preparing for a non-polarizing COVID-Thanksgiving with your family

November 14, 2020

While some families may look perfect from the outside, the truth is that perfection is hardly ever the case. Whether you rarely encounter challenges with family members or suffer daily as personalities collide.

If you add the stress of a year that has been besotted with plagues of biblical proportions - COVID, civil unrest, questions about national and social positioning of fundamental human rights, zoom-fatigue, burnout, (and we thought Murder Hornets were going to be bad) - many families may find themselves on opposite ends of the Thanksgiving Table. The good news is that there are strategies you can use to effectively get past these difficulties.

If you're constantly stressed out when dealing with certain family members, it's important to realize that you ultimately can't change them. The best thing you can do for yourself is to work on your own issues and help yourself to better deal with situations that may arise. This way you'll be happier in the long run.

Acquiring Understanding

Everyone can benefit from strengthening their understanding skills. Understanding is actually a difficult skill to acquire because it may not be easy to put yourself into another's shoes. After all, if you don't feel a certain way, how can you really know what it feels like?

One fact that can help you develop a greater understanding is that different people have different needs. Sometimes, when you're trying to get your needs met, you may end up ignoring the needs of someone else. Ask yourself if your conflicts arise from differing needs.

When you face a disagreement with a family member, instead of reacting in anger, take a step back to evaluate the situation. See if you can figure out why the other person feels the way they do.

Maybe you're worldlier, and the other person just hasn't encountered all of the life lessons that you've experienced. Perhaps you aren't aware of what they've gone through, and you could give them the benefit of the doubt.

It's tough to be understanding when you know you're the one reacting with logic and kindness. In this case, you may feel that you must prove yourself right and keep fighting until the other person understands your perspective. However, when you've mastered the art of understanding, you'll realize when you should stop and just try to find peace between you.

Keeping the Peace

A part of understanding is learning how to keep the peace. If you're dealing with a difficult family member that you only see once in a while, it should be relatively easy for you to find that peace temporarily. If you go into the situation with a positive mindset, you'll be better able to put your differences aside for the duration of the visit.

If a situation arises where you would ordinarily react in anger, remember to take some deep breaths before you say anything. If you're too tempted to fight back, remove yourself from the situation altogether and go outside to calm yourself. It's more difficult to keep the peace when you're having conflicts with a family member whom you see with regularity. In fact, these challenges may be causing you a great deal of stress. Instead of continuing to fight about who's right, it may be best to just agree to disagree and understand that the other person has a different perspective.

You can also achieve peace by compromising. For example, if a family member gets what they want one time, a fair compromise may be that you get your way the next time. The best compromises are win-win solutions where everyone walks away satisfied. Be creative in seeking agreeable solutions and you may find that your conflicts no longer exist.

Be it in person, or buffering on a video call, sometimes you may feel like nothing can be done to mend your relationship with the difficult person. Many times, though, once you start trying to resolve the situation peacefully, your difficult family members begin to make an effort as well.

After all, you are family, and the ties that bind you together are stronger than the forces that try to pull you apart!