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    Harry at the coronation: How to navigate family events after conflict

    With the coronation days away and a year of tension expressed mostly through books and interviews given by Prince Harry about his challenging relationship with the royals, he may be worried about the big day itself.

    We all have to sometimes attend events where there has been a tricky family falling-out or uncomfortable dynamic, so what is the best way to handle these tense situations?

    “Family events can regularly pose their own challenges, particularly large events with the wider family. Such occasions come with a variety of expectations and different personalities to have to navigate,” says Dr Jan-Sher Bhatti, a clinical psychologist at Lion Minds UK.

    Should I reach out before?

    “If it’s causing you worry or anxiety that you would like to address, there is no harm in reaching out to someone before the event,” says Smriti Joshi, lead psychologist at Wysa.

    “If there’s enough time before the event and the other person is willing to talk things out and is willing to listen to you with an open mind, it could help to speak and work on resolving, or at least arriving at an understanding about each other’s thoughts or actions that triggered the conflict in the first place.”

    But sometimes that can’t be done.

    “If this is not possible and you do have to attend the event, talking it out with someone else, or trying to get a third person or more rational perspective would help you prepare for the event,” she explains.

    Do I ignore the conflict?

    “Try not to start an argument at the event. Remember it is an occasion designed to be happy and memorable for the right reasons. If you feel you cannot engage with the individual at the event without it causing friction, simply acknowledge them and then try to spend time with other people,” says Joshi.

    “Remember that you can choose how long you would like to be there at the event. Making a list of scenarios that could trigger you can help you be more mindful while at the event, and make a decision to exit in case any of these triggers show up,” she explains.

    Should I take a partner?

    Meghan Markle is not attending with her husband due to childcare responsibilities, but if a partner can come, should they?

    “It could help to go with someone than attend alone, as the other person could help as an emotional anchor for you, help talk down any rising tensions, and help you stay distracted and engaged than being reminded of the conflicts and triggers. They will also be someone you can chat with and spend time with, so the event becomes more enjoyable,” Joshi says.

    What can I do to ease tensions?

    You may be wondering how you can keep emotions from running high.

    “It will be extremely hard not to experience any feelings. So anticipating that difficult feelings or thoughts may surface and reminding yourself that you are not your feelings and thoughts are not facts, is the first step to feeling in control of your emotional state. It can help to take short breaks during the event, go to the washroom or pick up a glass of water and find a corner to relax in, even for a few minutes,” Joshi explains.

    Drinking too much will not help.“Ensure you’re taking care of yourself, eating well and staying hydrated and not consuming a lot of alcohol that could make you feel edgy, angry or hyper-vigilant and reduce frustration tolerance – which would increase vulnerability to have a meltdown and no one wants that,” says Joshi.

    Remember, you know these people extremely well.

    People are usually well-accustomed to the characters in their family and recognise most of the values and morals held by each member,” Bhatti says.

    “It’s useful to acknowledge that other people’s values aren’t always similar to our own or shared by everyone, which is something we should respect. Individuals should try to hold in mind their own values and focus their attention on the original intentions for attending the event, such as celebrating a family member’s wedding or even the coronation. This can help reduce the likelihood of becoming entangled in any difficult interactions if one feels like their values are being criticised or challenged by any discussions or other people’s behaviours,” says Bhatti.

    How can I take care of myself?

    This may be a really mentally challenging time, so prioritise self-preservation.

    “Self-compassion is empathy in action for the self and is super-important.  Mental health and physical health both get impacted during what might be a difficult experience, so ensure you are taking care of your physical health and hence protect your mental health as well,” Joshi says.

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