November 2023

A note on care during crisis:

There are many devastating things happening around the world and the grief and heaviness is real. We should all endeavor to show grace and compassion to those around us navigating trauma, loss, and stress. Here are some resources for many folks in our community:

Communicating across difference during the holidays

Every year I find myself saying “how is it November already?!” and I know I’m not alone. In the academic realm this starts a big push to the end of the semester with many deadlines, conferences, exams, and other stressors. It also marks the beginning of a number of holiday celebrations in the United States. For many that may be a joyful time filled with food, friends, and, family. It can also be a time of immense stress that leads to negative conflict cycles. There are many valuable tools for de-escalating conflict and managing difficult dynamics. However, those don’t always feel sufficient for those whose very identity and humanity is intertwined with the conflict. For many LGBTQIA+ folks and other minoritized groups these “conflicts” may be very personal. As I noted in last year’s November Conscious Conversation,

“Personal safety and well-being are important. If someone is intentionally trying to harm you (e.g., using derogatory language, attacking you) or have reason to believe the conflict could have a severe consequence for you (i.e., your family will kick you out of your home) no amount of mindful engagement tips are enough. We exist in complexity and come to these conversations from different lived and embodied experiences. Our identities impact our level of risk and our safety and support nets.”

If you find yourself in this position here are a few valuable reminders:

  • Prepare for your visit by thinking through what resources you may need(e.g., what will ground you, who can be on standby for support etc.)
  • Establish your boundaries for yourself – practice key phrases that will communicate clearly your feelings and safety requirements
  • Have an exit plan (even if temporary). This may be engaging some of your chosen family to call or scheduling a “meeting” to give you an excuse for a break.
  • Create a self-care ritual that will help you decompress
  • Don’t go. That is of course easier said than done and may not be worth it, but if the damage of being in an invalidating environment is high it can be important to allow yourself this option.

By Dr. Jennifer Sandoval.

Published to Nicholson News on November 2nd, 2023.

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