Heidi M. Woods, LCPC, LLC 

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Here We Go Again?!

Posted on December 21, 2017 at 1:55 PM

Do you find yourself being in an excited mood and in excellent holiday spirit but then the closer it gets to Christmas that feeling sours?  Well you are not alone.  The initial excitement and fun of decorating and making crafts and looking at the lights can be exciting and fulfilling.  Most people do this with close family and close friends.  It seems that the issue of decreased excitement and even increased dread the closer it gets to Christmas may actually be about the thought of spending time with those family members you do not feel close or connected to.  To make it worse, for some reason (I have my theories) we are optimistic each year that things will be different when we know that nothing has changed.  Soooo we set ourselves up for another disappointment. 

What to do so we don't become a big Ba Humbug?:

  • be realistic and acknowledge that some family members are difficult to tolerate (most people do not magically change and some sadly do not change even if they are told they are hurting you).  Hoping they have changed is a big set up.
  • challenge yourself to stop focusing on the stuff about others that drives you crazy (easier said than done)
  • focus on the family members that amuse you, support you or make you happy.  Even if this person is not your favorite they are bound to have some qualities that you can appreciate.
  • limit your time with family.  Don't linger any longer than is necessary.  Go outside for air and reset when it starts feeling too toxic.
  • find the humor in it.  If you can't find the humor in the moment call a friend later to share your "horror" and have a laugh.
  • Have your "go to" support system ready but be careful that your venting doesn't become excessive complaining.  Get it off your chest and move on with the positive.
  • plan things that make you happy.  Planning activities with people who nurture your sole not only breaks up the tension but also gives you something special to look forward to.  A mini Christmas with your favorite people at a restaurant goes a long way.  Plan more than one.
  • when the holidays are over (give it until at least mid-January) consider talking with the family member that is upsetting  you.  Maybe you can at least establish some boundaries.  Be realistic.  It will likely take more than one conversation. It is also important to consider if talking to this person will likely bring about any change or are you beating your head against the wall again.  If you are beating your head against the wall, please stop.

Remember you are not alone in experiencing frustrations with family.  Give yourself the power to not let the nonsense get to you and turn yourself into a big Bah Humbug.


Boundaries Make You Stronger

Posted on November 1, 2017 at 2:05 PM

With terms like "snowflake" being thrown around lately it is important to remember that being kind doesn't mean you are weak or an easy target for people who are choosing to behave in a mean way.

A person can be kind, considerate and have a passionate opinion without inviting others to slam them nor being drawn into slamming others.  The important component is BOUNDARIES.  

Set them:

  • Use "I" statements.  This is setting a clear boundary that you are speaking for yourself and not condemning others who may have a differing opinion.
  • Make simple statements like: "I respect your opinion but it's hard to hear what you are saying when you are speaking to me using harsh and belittling language".  "I would like to hear your opinion.  Can we talk respectfully with each other?"
  • Walk away.  Sometimes things are too heated or the other person is not in a place where he/she can communicate respectfully at that moment.  Walk away from the conversation and try again later.  "I need to go.  I'll talk to you later".
  • Re-affirm and disengage.  When harsh statements are being made and it is clear the person is not interested in having a healthy dialogue, make a simple statement re-affirming your opinion and exit the conversation.  This allows you to feel better about the event (e.g., you didn't just walk away when a person was using racist language) but it protects you from engaging in a potentially escalating conversation.
  • Be firm.  "Please don't use those words around me".  You may have to say this over and over again.
  • Cut your losses.  Some people don't want to have a respectful/rational conversation.  Some people are motivated to prove their point to win at all costs.  Unfortunately, some people are not interested in considering the alternative to their opinion.  If you continue to engage these people you are setting yourself up to feel frustrated and maybe even angry. Your opinion is still valid even if you stop talking to some people about it.   If it's a person you still need to be around (e.g., family), make a firm statement saying you will not engage in these conversations with him/her. "I won't talk about this topic with you".  Stay strong.  Some people will try to goad you into the conversation especially if you are outnumbered.

In setting your boundaries you take the high road while being proud of being kind, considerate and compassionate toward others.

Take the High Road

Posted on October 17, 2017 at 8:00 PM

Freedom of Speech doesn’t translate into freedom to be verbally abusive.

Today’s political climate is certainly challenging the concept of Freedom of Speech.  With much of the direct and derogatory ranting on t.v., in print and over social media it is challenging to the most patient to not lose their poise.  How do we effectively manage it?

You have the right to your opinion.  It’s how you handle expressing your opinion that makes a difference.  It may feel good in the moment to spew an angry retort but does that make you feel good in the long run or bring about change?  Is that who you want to be?

Be the bigger person (easier said than done.  It takes practice):

  • Express your opinion using “I” statements such as I don’t like or I don’t agree. “I don’t agree with his/her position on immigration”. It takes the finger pointing out of the argument.
  • Avoid using highly emotionally charged language such as stupid and idiot.
  • Remain positive. Don’t feed into another’s anger and hate filled rant by responding in the same manner.
  • Remember that few people change their opinion or consider other options after being screamed at or being insulted. It usually has the opposite effect.
  • Remember that people have the right to a differing opinion.  It doesn't mean your opinion is wrong or insignificant.
  • Expressing yourself respectfully using “I” statements and using as many facts as possible may plant a seed. Even if it doesn’t at least you come out of the conversation looking mature and respectful.


Take the high road.