Deck the Halls not Your Relatives: How to Have Peace and Compassion This Holiday Season



While we are still in the midst of a pandemic, mainstream hysteria seems to have subsided with the release of the new FDA-approved vaccine. Still, there is a highly controversial debate between those who embrace the vaccine and those who might resist it for personal reasons. While I could go on about the political viewpoints of each side, I will spare you that tirade as this will most likely happen at your holiday dinner table with your most adored family members...


We all have that one relative that seems to like to "rock the boat" amidst a rather quiet and quaint family gathering. You can probably recall multiple scenarios where this person hijacked the evening and cause one or two others to storm out or end the evening on poor terms.


So, how do you handle that person this year? Here are some tips for handling those Scrooges during the holidays:


Tip 1:

Control what you can control. There are two types of perspectives of control - internal & external. An external locus of control means that you believe aspects of your environment dictate your destiny or fate. An internal locus of control is the opposite of that. With an internal locus of control, you believe that you dictate how events play out in your life.


When dealing with difficult people, try adopting an internal locus of control. When you take control of the situation, it becomes easier to adapt to the circumstances rather than simply becoming reactive to them.


Tip 2:

Listen to what the person is actually saying. Usually, when people are trying to enforce their point of view, they are approaching it from 3 stances - Logos, Ethos, and Pathos. Logos refers to the logical side of an argument. Pathos refers to the emotional side. Ethos refers to the authoritarian side of the argument (e.g. "I am a doctor, therefore I know the most about medicine," etc.). Most people believe they can get their point across using only one of these stances.


My advice: figure out which one of these stances they are operating from and neutralize them with another. For example, if your relative begins to go on a logical tirade full of statistics and anecdotes, try appealing to their pathos by getting their emotions involved (not anger, think compassion).


Tip 3:

Recognize that you are not responsible for anyone other than yourself. This means that you are not required to entertain, engage, or rebuttal any obscene, obscure, or outlandish discussion that has little to nothing to do with the reason why you are gathering––which is to be thankful and celebrate life with others.


When we make gratitude a priority, all the other things we stress over seem to fall by the wayside. Be thankful that you are in control of your destiny, be humble, and resist the inclination to determine others' fates as if you hold supreme knowledge of the universe. This goes for others wrongfully exerting their beliefs on you. These attempts do not require or dignify a response.



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About Sam Nabil

Sam Nabil is the founder of Naya Clinics and is a Boston therapist and a Boston Marriage Counselor.

Sam offers therapy in Boston and Boston Marriage Counseling for adults suffering from relationship challenges, life transitions and anxiety. Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university, Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com

About Naya Clinics

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