I think many of us probably feel as though being a “peacekeeper” is nothing to feel blessed about. It seems like the holiday season, in particular, brings out the very worst in people. How can you cope when you’re dealing with the stress that often comes with this time of year, combined with people who might be carrying about a lot of baggage that they aren’t coping with very well?
I’m not a mental health professional, but I’ve found there are a few ways to cope that make a lot of this easier. Hopefully, these tips will be helpful no matter where you are on a spiritual journey or where your loved one is:
Pick your battles wisely – Sometimes it’s hard to avoid walking into a verbal hornet’s nest, but sometimes there is plenty of warning that one is there. If you’re dealing with a loved one who seems easily set off, watch for the warning signs that they’re itching for a verbal sparring match so you can avoid discussion.
Avoid the temptation to have to have the last word – I’m very much a work in progress myself on this matter, but I’ve found it helpful in dealing with verbal “boxers” who thrive on conflict. Sometimes it’s not worth the wasted time or resulting migraine.
Draw a line and ENFORCE it – Some people just need to be told that you won’t discuss certain issues with them – period, end of discussion. One of the major things here is spotting ways they might try to use “wiggle room” to try to force discussion of the forbidden topic – you’ll need to treat these the same as you would any other boundary violation.
Don’t try to sway them – It’s frustrating to see people holding certain views that are making them and everyone around them angry and dysfunctional. However, remembering that you aren’t any more likely to convert them to your way of thinking any more than they will convert you to theirs will save you a lot of frustration.
Do damage control as needed, for your own sake – Some people continually engage in rude, thoughtless behavior despite your efforts to be nice and avoid any conflicts. Depending on the severity of the behavior, you might need to consider cutting contact, restricting their access to you on social media, etc.
Don’t feel guilty – Some insecure people will try to make you feel guilty for setting boundaries and act like you’re the bad one. Remember: No matter what their story is, you are not responsible for everything that’s happened to them, and they must be the one to choose to deal with their issues – you can’t do it for them.