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Healthy Relationships Over the Holidays

Nov 16, 2018 11:35AM ● By Don Short

The Holidays bring families together in a variety of ways. Thanksgiving and Christmas are often times where families share and enjoy times of catching up and creating new memories. For many, this is a positive time together, but for others, it often is a time of stress and conflict. Here are five suggestions to help make these times a more positive and healthy experience.

  1. Keep your conversation positive. If someone around you starts to bring up negative and unhealthy things of the past, try to change the conversation and if that does not work, leave the conversation.

  2. Stay away from hurtful sarcasm. Too many of us have normalized hurtful sarcasm under the pretense of “I was just kidding” or “I was just playing around.” In reality, it is a bad habit, it is often very hurtful, and it needs to stop.

  3. Stop the negative name-calling. Instead, point out the positive qualities of the person. Encourage them in ways that will be helpful in the present and in the future.

  4. Practice empathy. Before you do or say anything, try to see how it could possibly affect the other person. Would it be positive or negative?

  5. Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. It means letting go of things in the past that you found hurtful. It means setting healthy boundaries and moving forward in ways that make you feel safe and protected.

Some of the items mentioned above are bad habits that may have been in your family for years. Pause for a moment and reflect on how toxic some of this behavior has been to you and other family members.

Do you have a toxic person in your life? Are you carrying anger, hurt or resentment towards someone you will be seeing over the Holidays? I have a simple exercise that I would like for you to practice. I would like for you to repeat ten times out loud in a private place the following statement.

“My heart is full of love and understanding.”

Pause for a moment after saying it ten times and notice how you feel. The next step is to repeat it again ten times with the name of the person with whom you are having difficulty.

    “(insert name’s) heart is full of love and understanding.”  

Pause again and notice how you feel. Many of my clients have found this to be useful in keeping them more grounded in the present and more self-aware as they deal with this difficult person.

God bless you and your family this year as you celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. 


Don Short is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and EMDR Therapist. His practice focuses on clients with marriage, relationship and family issues. To learn more contact 337-781-4565 or visit: 

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