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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Your Holiday: Merry or Maddening?

Once again, the holidays are upon us. Along with pumpkin pies, squealing children running around, and lots of hugs and laughter come the inevitable not-so-fun moments. Are there people around your table you would rather not see if you could help it? Those who always seem to say something critical? Those who won’t even speak to each other?

Strained and broken relationships among family members are often difficult to repair—and it is rarely possible to accomplish this during an annual gathering. But there are things you can do to make it better.
Bonnie Artman Fox, whose career has included working as a licensed therapist as well as a registered nurse, is the founder of A Conscious Choice through which she teaches skills to deal with difficult people and situations. She has wise and thoughtful advice for those who are struggling with family issues during the holidays. In a nutshell, Bonnie advises giving a “heart gift…”

“…compassion instead of a comeback…a smile instead of sarcasm…affirming words instead of attacking words.”

OK, this can be really tough to do—especially when you’ve been deeply hurt by someone. The following is a quote Bonnie shares that could make it easier for you:

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”  - Thich Nhat Hanh

While extending compassion, forgiveness—even tolerance—for a few hours on one or two days out of the year might be doable, it likely will not restore the relationship(s). But it will make the day more pleasant for everyone.

Try it. If it goes well for you, then consider taking another step. At Samaritan Counseling Center, our therapists are trained to help families and couples to improve—and often restore—damaged relationships.

Give family counseling a try. Yes, it’s hard work—there’s no magic involved! But all the people who got professional counseling and are now gathering at their holiday tables sharing love, peace and happiness will tell you that it was well worth their efforts.