Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday

Like our nation, many of our families are divided.

Self-Management Skills Required this HolidayThis election was a BIGGIE! Whichever side you are on, chances are self-management skills will be required this Holiday season!

What is meant to be a time of joy, kindness, generosity and togetherness can be tinged with dread. We dread the division of our families and our country. We dread witnessing the jabs between our favorite aunt, who is waving a Trump flag, and our favorite cousin, who has spent his life in social service and is vehemently against Trump.

Like our nation, many of our families are divided

And like the country, our families are not always communicating with each other in the way that we would hope.

We love BOTH our aunt and our cousin.  Our children, sitting at the small folding table next to the adult table, are watching us. We are their models. Self-management skills will be required this Holiday season and they can do better if we do better. Moreover, children have a way of loving everyone for who they are – even in a big burly sweater.

Self-Management Skills are Required this Holiday Season

What if we could be proud of our self-management?  What if we step into someone else’s shoes and try to remember who these people are and what they have meant to us? What if we pause before we speak?

Self-management requires self-regulation, self-reflection, perspective taking and/or stepping into someone else’s shoes. Use our understanding of the other person’s past and intentions, we can project their possible reactions.  Our self-awareness will help us react in measured and respectable ways.

We need strategies on how to  offer – and accept – compassion, kindness and perspective.

5 Strategies for Improved Self-Management Skills This Holiday Season:

1.Remember Intention– Assume and remember the best intentions of those around you. What has each one done for you? This is especially important for the relatives on the other side of the aisle.  For those relatives with whom you don’t share the same views, make an extra effort to listen to them. Validate their feelings and emotions.  You can say, “Interesting. I can see why you would feel that way.”  As you express your opinions,  remember to focus on the kindness, compassion and respect your relative has shown you for years, her acts of love and affection.  What you say can damage your relationship.

Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday2.Walk in their Shoes  What could be going on in the his life? Has this year been particularly tough financially? Could COVID have hit her family harder than yours?  Don’t assume motives. Ask Open Ended questions and truly listen to the response without judgement.

3.Build a Bridge to Understanding –If your intention is to speak to your family with respect, ditch the one-liners, zingers and sarcasm. Breathe deeply, pause and respond in a way that convey respect. Keep your tone neutral and avoid words like “always” and “never”.

4.Listen- Listening isn’t just not talking. It involves eye contact, and connection. Keep facial expressions and body language relaxed and friendly. Don’t interrupt or “one-up” either.

5.Manage Emotions Rather Than Having Them Manage You– Now, before the holidays arrive, make a mental or written note of the symptoms your body expresses when it becomes agitated. Come up with ways to lessen these reactions so you don’t overheat and blow your top or say something you wish you didn’t. Use mindfulness to manage your emotions by recognizing the signs and breathing consciously to slow your mind and thoughts.

6.Don’t climb onto the soapbox – It is highly unlikely that you will influence or change anyone’s deep-seated beliefs over pumpkin pie. Keep away from the lectures and ask for another slice of pie instead.

7.Find the similarities– Humans share lots in common as a species. Emphasize commonality and stay away from shaming or declarations of incompatibility.

This holiday season, instead of banning certain topics, institute rules of respect. Insist on giving each member equal time, refrain from interruptions and allow a retort.

In my practice, one of the things I do is teach kids how to listen to one another, to show respect to their peers, and to practice the skills of empathy in order to form a connect. Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of those skills, and practice them with gusto.

DEEPER DIVE:

SEL Guidance in Response to the 2020 Election
CASEL offers guidance and resources for creating safe, supportive learning environments in which young people and adults can process the election and continue their civic participation.

 

When Someone Isn’t Nice, Should You Ignore It?

 

 

The Silver Lining: Empathy and Kindness

Are you finding yourself unsettled and anxious? 

Routines? What routines?

What really matters now?

When circumstances jolt us from our routines, it is hard to reset. Business is not the same as usual. For many, the answer is to help others…

If there is a silver lining in all of this… it is that we are experiencing unexpected kindness.

I stopped in my tracks after reading this post in a local chat group. THIS is why the human spirit will not be denied.

How to Help Someone Struggling:

First, to set the scene, you have to create an opportunity to actually talk and meet him where he is. Pick a time and place most comfortable for both of you to have this initial discussion. People tend to be more receptive to conversation when they’re physically comfortable, unhurried and undistracted.

Ask questions. Don’t judge. Don’t demand she change.

Use Open-ended Questions:

By asking open-ended questions, you encourage honest, candid and thoughtful discussions. Open-ended questions use the words who, what, when, where, and how. Below are some conversation starters:

  • How are you doing?
  • What do you like (not like) about your situation?
  • What interests you?
  • What is your virtual world like?
  • What makes ______ appealing?
  • I have noticed that sometimes you have a hard time with (identify a behavior). What makes (name the behavior) hard for you?

If your child or friend resists, ask him, “What feels hard about this?”

If he denies there is a problem, you can say, “Well I have noticed…” and then name a specific series of situations. Ask him what feels uncomfortable or makes him afraid of making that change. Share with him the things that could happen if he were willing to work on this concern and ask him what he would like to be different. You will share with him a picture of possibilities—what it could be like. Some key phrases that are helpful:

  • “I am curious”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “What is that like for you?
  • “What does that feel like?

When you are curious and really listen, you can never go wrong.

Clarify Concerns and Express Empathy:

As she is responding to your questions, be sure to clarify her concerns by being a reflective listener: Listen closely, repeat back what you heard and ask if you understand correctly. You can say: “Here’s what I hear you saying…is that right?” If she feels that her concerns are heard and validated, she will be more open to hearing what you have to say. Accept and validate her sentiments by using you and I statements, such as “You are overwhelmed” and “I am sad you are lonely.”View Post

Finally, and this is very important, be sure to express empathy: “I hear you,” “I get it,” “That must be hard.”

Learn more:

3 Tips to Building Empathy During a Social Crisis

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