A couple of weeks ago, we introduced our series on “The Holler-Days” to give you some tips and support around having safe, enjoyable, and connecting conversations at this especially stressful time of year.
How’s it going so far?
We hope there was no turkey-throwing or other unpleasantries at Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful or thankful when you’re up to your elf hat in decorations, planning, crazy schedules, and conflicting suggestions from the whole family about how all of that should go.
But you took three deep breaths, didn’t you? And said to yourself, “I’m just going to mirror Uncle Joe when he starts on his annual rant. And when Aunt Mable tells me how to make the pecan pie, I’m going to be curious instead of furious, and I’ll invite her to tell me about the first time she made her famous pecan pie – maybe I can learn something after all…”
But then, your sibling walked in the room and had that look on their face…and you lost it!
I know, right? ANYONE but my brother or sister. I can handle just about anything from anyone, but THEY know all the buttons to push, don’t they? Mine sure does, and it’s really quite impressive how talented they are at it. I mean, they’ve been doing it all their lives, right? Here’s the kicker – SO HAVE YOU. For all the reasons we’ve talked about before, the family dynamic is often the hardest relationship to navigate, and siblings can be either your greatest allies or your fiercest obstacles in that effort. Sometimes both, within the same ten minutes.
It helps to understand, from a family systems perspective, why that is.
We all have a fairly firm grasp on the concepts of sibling rivalries; how we jockey for attention, learn to work our parents, see things differently than each other, and can’t understand how that is when we were raised in the same family…all of that feels like pretty common knowledge. While it does help to know that these things have influenced our current relationship with our sibs, knowing this doesn’t really give us the tools to change it in the present – to make today’s conversation different than the one last year that shut down any hope of a joyous holiday.
Safe Conversations gives you those tools; if you practice them, they can change the way you relate to your siblings, and eventually may help them shift how they relate to you. When you mirrorvalidate, and empathize with them about things that set them off, you give them (and maybe the rest of the family) the gift of peace. It may seem like they want to fight, but when you show them empathy and connection, you defuse the real reason they’re pushing those buttons – they simply want to feel heard, validated and seen. Though you may see them as Godzilla in the movie of your life, they’re really just like you – a unique and precious human being whose greatest desire is to belong, to be connected, and to feel valued, in all their glorious imperfection.
This year, turn the Holler Days back into the Holidays. Give your siblings, and yourself, the gift of peace and calm with Safe Conversations. And maybe a little extra brandy in the eggnog.

Recommended Reading