Family get-togethers are supposed to be a big part of the reason we experience joy during the holidays. But it often doesn’t work that way. Family dynamics often dredge up old wounds and, before you know it, we’re pulled right back into the roles we played in childhood.
Maybe you know what I mean. One moment the family is all together, and everything is fine. The house is filled with conversation and laughter. And then a family member says or does something that reopens an old emotional wound we’ve never healed. And just like that, we’re a 10-year-old child again, feeling hurt or ashamed.
To head off those kinds of troubles before they happen, focus not on controlling your family member’s behavior, but how you respond to it.
To that end, it’s a good idea to plan for how you’ll handle yourself if things take a turn for the worse. Start by talking things over with your spouse before the family is all together. Get your concerns out into the open and discuss the kind of support you’ll need if something happens.
And if something does happen, have a plan for how you’ll separate yourself from the situation until the emotion that has pushed itself to the surface has passed. The more in control of yourself that you feel, the less likely family dynamics will escalate and get out of hand. And the more likely you’ll have a Merry Christmas!
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