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Family and Holidays

The Holidays and Family

This time of year, our thoughts turn to family. Those thoughts could bring us great joy, or they may be fraught with anxiety. The holidays can affect our feelings toward other family members in a number of ways:

Memories stirred up by holiday reminders can bring up childhood traumas and adult resentments. Or, they can bring evoke warmth, nostalgia and romanticism. One troubling emotional experience may be the pressure to create the “perfect” family picture at holiday time - those images created by advertising, Hallmark movies, Greeting cards and even Norman Rockwell paintings. The pressure to perform and create perfection can result in unwelcome and sometimes destructive stress and anxiety. Let’s take a look at relationships during the holidays and how to approach them rationally.

First, give yourself a break! Recognize the reality of your relationships. If there are fundamental differences between you and another member of your family, a mere holiday will not make these disappear. On the other hand, family get togethers my give you the opportunity to honestly communicate with an estranged family member. Sometimes all it takes to restore a fractured relationships is honest conversation.

Try to see things from others’ point of view. This act of true empathy creates vulnerability and fosters honest emotions. This may be all you need to reconnect with a loved one and move on to a meaningful nurturing relationship.

Be prepared to forgive and to ask for forgiveness - two of the most difficult acts of emotional gymnastics in the human experience - but the raw emotions of the holidays might be just the right time to practice them!

Be realistic. If the relationship is beyond repair, it may stay that way. Still, in the presence of someone from whom you’ve been estranged, be polite, kind and respectful - we should all treat each other in this way, no matter the time of year or circumstance.

Lastly, if repairing a relationship is your goal for the holidays, go slowly and minimize pressure on yourself and the other party. Remember that a damaged relationship is a fragile structure - the smallest amount of tweaking can either strengthen it, or cause it to topple over completely.

In any event, enjoy the holiday season, love your friends and family members. Go easy on yourself and others. We are all humans and want similar things out of our relationships!!

In health,

Dr. John Monaco

MONACO Wellness

(813) 541-6440

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