FIVE WAYS TO STAND YOUR GROUND ON DIS­TANC­ING

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Now that many lo­ca­tions are reopening, how can we re­spect our dif­fer­ent stances on so­cial­iz­ing safely with­out caus­ing rifts? The tech­niques experts share here can help with tricky sit­u­a­tions.

1 UN­DER­STAND THE SOURCE OF THE STRESS

Any­thing that dis­rupts the har­mony be­tween us, our fam­ily and friends, such as dis­agree­ments on so­cial­iz­ing,

causes stress. Carla Marie Manly, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist and au­thor of Joy From Fear, says if your “group” is in con­sen­sus, such as agree­ing on a get-to­gether for a birth­day, and you feel dif­fer­ently, both

sides can feel hurt.

2 COM­MU­NI­CATE BOUND­ARIES

“You have the right to set your own level of tol­er­ance for risk,” said Gary Brown, a fam­ily ther­a­pist. Iden­tify your own rules, such as that you’ll gather with fam­ily out­side but not share a meal. Next, re­hearse what you’ll say so you present your stand firmly,

kindly and non-de­fen­sively. But, Manly says, “give the per­son one, two, three times to get the mes­sage.” If they still

aren’t hear­ing you, ex­plain that part of con­tin­u­ing the re­la­tion­ship is a mu­tual re­spect

of bound­aries.

3 GET COM­FORT­ABLE WITH SAY­ING NO

Even the best-de­liv­ered mes­sages can be met with re­sis­tance, lead­ing to more dis­com­fort. Not only is set­ting bound­aries new for you, it’s new for the other per­son, who is prob­a­bly go­ing to push

back. But, Brown says dis­agree­ing is “a ba­sic right, and you don’t need to apol­o­gize.”

4 AC­KNOWL­EDGE EMO­TIONS

When dif­fer­ing with some­one, focus on com­mon con­cerns, such as want­ing ev­ery­one to stay safe. But there’s an even bet­ter ap­proach to show

you care, says psy­chol­o­gist Lyn­d­say Volpe-bertram. When talking with your loved one, say some­thing like, “I know you re­ally miss us, and we

miss you too.”

5 KNOW THAT YOU’LL RE-EVAL­U­ATE

As we see new in­for­ma­tion come out, we’ll all be adapt­ing how we so­cial­ize. “Be open to re­con­sid­er­ing your bound­aries,” Brown said.

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