Alright, as promised, here is tip #2 in the continuing series for the the LGBT community regarding the holiday season that is fast approaching.
Tip #1 was about creating a detailed picture of how you hope the holidays will look, both for the purpose of getting on the same page with your spouse, (if applicable), as well as creating a clear destination to measure forward movement.
So, moving in order, once you’ve done that first step, next I would advise you do this:
2. Recognize Past, & Current Progress:
As I was talking with that couple last year, I asked them to put things on a scale of 0-10, where 10 = the picture we’d just spent most of the session creating.
Well, to my surprise, they said, even with the current difficulties, they’d put things at about a 4. I immediately asked them what was happening that was contributing to things being at a 4, rather than a 3 or lower, & the answer came quickly and confidently. They told me that the mother of the family they were concerned about, had gradually moved from an unaccepting and judgmental place where she wouldn’t even acknowledge her son’s spouse, to a place of complete acceptance. Over the last few years she started to hug her son’s spouse when they saw each other, and they even started to talk on the phone regularly, just as she might with her other son-in-law. It was a complete turnaround from where it started a few years before.
With some purposeful questions on my part, this couple was then able to pull some useful information from that story about what they did to contribute to this success, and it helped them make an action plan for helping other family members move a bit closer to acceptance as well.
So remember: Recognize progress, because at the very least you will be able to realize that some things have gotten better, and you might even be able to develop a plan for continuing in that direction by repeating what’s worked already.
Tip #3 on Friday, until then, give some credit where it’s due.
Rebekka Ouer, LCSW
@LGBT_Counselor on Twitter