7 Strategies For Improved Self-Management Skills This Holiday Season

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woman and adult daughter sitting and hugging

Like our nation, many families are divided. This 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.

You dread the division of your family and country. You dread witnessing the jabs between your favorite aunt, who is waving a Trump flag, and your favorite cousin, who has spent his life in social service and is vehemently against Trump.

The holidays are supposed to be a wonderful time where everyone comes together to share the joy of the holidays.

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Self-management skills keep your emotions in check during the holidays.

With so many tempers high, self-management skills for speaking and interacting with one another may not be up to par. And like the country, your family is not always communicating with each other in the way you'd hope.

You love your aunt and your cousin. Your children, sitting at the small folding table next to the adult table, are watching you. You're 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.

What if you could be proud of your self-management?

What if you step into someone else’s shoes, and try to remember who these people are and what they have meant to you? What if you pause before you speak?

Self-management requires self-regulation, self-reflection, perspective-taking, and stepping into someone else’s shoes.

By using your understanding of the other person’s past and intentions, you can project their possible reactions. Your self-awareness will help you react in measured and respectable ways.

You need strategies on how to offer — and accept — compassion, kindness, and perspective.

Here are 7 strategies for improved self-management skills this holiday season:

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1. Remember your intentions.

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, as well as their acts of love and affection. What you say can damage your relationship.

2. Walk in their shoes.

What could be going on in their life? Has this year been particularly tough financially? Could COVID have hit their family harder than yours?

Don’t assume motives. Ask open-ended questions and truly listen to the response without judgment.

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 conveys respect. Keep your tone neutral and avoid words like “always” and “never.”

4. Really listen in a conversation.

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 your emotions instead of letting them control 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 a "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 between your situation and someone else's.

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.

It's time listen to one another, show respect to your peers, and practice the skills of empathy in order to form a connection. Now more than ever, you need to be reminded of those skills and practice them with gusto.

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Caroline Maguire, ACCG, PCC, M.Ed. is a personal coach who works with children with ADHD and the families who support them. For more information, visit her website.

This article was originally published at Caroline Maguire Author. Reprinted with permission from the author.