It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year, when we gather with our nearest and dearest to celebrate the holiday season. During what should be a very joyful time of the year the always pertinent issue of group dynamicsinevitably pops up. It’s otherwise known as “group think mentality” and we find that we may not feel a part of the group dynamic. Sometimes we feel unheard, judged or just downright disrespected. We have all been in this situation, either with family, in the work place or among social groups. So, let’s talk about one or two ways we can better cope to make this holiday season just a bit more joyful. One technique is to try to “detach with love”. This sounds like an oxymoron but can be an effective tool to use in being with people you care for without reacting negatively when they say something that offends you. Instead of getting defensive, keep compassion for the person on the other side of the disagreement. As difficult as it may be, if we realize that we may never agree with their perspective, but we love them anyway, we have given ourselves the freedom to stop trying to prove we are right. This is where we “detach” but instead of doing so in anger we do so with love. If we can shift our energy to love that gives them the room to also do so. This is a difficult process – be gentle with yourself as you attempt this! Another way to deal with feeling like the “black sheep” is to become a neutral observer of the situation. To me, this means being prepared as you go into emotionally loaded situations. Look at the situation as if you’re watching a movie. Don’t react so quickly…take the time to observe; take a breath. This has allowed me to watch a “scene” and not be triggered into reacting. Once you choose to not participate in the scene in the usual way, you may feel empowered to have a more productive conversation. It can be really hard to do sometimes, but when I have been able to, it’s worked pretty damn well. When we hold onto the feelings of being outcast and disrespected then our mind keeps playing the scene over, and our body will continue to feel the stress of it. It is as if we marinate ourselves in the feeling of being powerless; this probably feels normal, but is self-destructive. If you can acknowledge how you’re feeling and take control of your reactions, it will no longer have a hold over you, and the outcome will be much less traumatic. This is truly self-empowerment! The differences of opinion we have with those around us are a function of unique perspective and experience. Karen Noe, a wonderful teacher of mine, has often said: “Imagine a turtle and a giraffe. The turtle can’t possibly see what the giraffe does from his place and if the giraffe tried to see from the perspective of the turtle, he will put himself into a situation of craning his neck and die.” In certain circumstances, we will never see eye to eye, but we can certainly love each other and even have a few laughs. Each get-together, each party, each outing is just one small scene in a much longer movie which determines the story of our lives. Thankfully, we can each determine how the plot of our movie will develop and create the lives we would choose.