End of the year holidays tend to bring up relationship images including elaborate table place settings, snow dusted rooftops with reindeers and family togetherness, at least as seen on commercial flyers…They create an artificial environment that mixes feelings, expectations and shopping. Yet, many people do not feel excited, and anticipating the holiday cheer. In fact, they can feel downright panic stricken, mixing past images of previous sad relationships experiences with the stress of the ones to come.
One of the reasons that people feel stressed about family get-togethers during the holidays is because everybody’s expectations are so incredibly high. No wonder, if we still carry with us some unfulfilled magic wishes from our childhood….Truth be told, reality shows that when everyone goes home for the holidays, rarely is it a conflict-free event, but quite the contrary..
We wish, and dream, that holiday get-togethers will generate an emotional proximity and closeness that may be painfully missing at other times of the year. Again, infantile yearnings for love and connection, always waiting for an opportunity to raise their heads, come up for air in December and ask for a miracle. This time, it’s really going to happen, it’s finally going to come to us, this year we will experience love and acceptance from our loved ones….
The reality is that in many families such expectations, never explained or expressed, generate chronic clashes between parents, children, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles for generations.
And that’s even before we consider the in-laws, coming with their own sets of hidden expectations of being finally accepted and appreciated! At the least, we share the heartfelt desire to have a conflict free experience, and some easy going communication, but that too remains unexpressed and, so, easily ignored as common ground.
Ironically, our strong desire to have real emotional connections with people around us often results in things going even worse. That’s because the fear attached to previous experiences, where we were frustrated and perhaps rejected, results in body language and behavior that just anticipates negative interactions and so tends to get everyone else even more tense and anticipating hurtful reactions. Perhaps, we anticipate them so strongly, that we imagine being served again with an ironic comment from the same relative that hurt us in the past….and now we act defensive before anything even happens. Keeping in mind that the real intention of “Happy Holidays!” is a wish for you to be as happy as you can be, but not pressured to, please allow yourself to learn more about what stresses or hurts you during these holiday interactions and get some help in making improvements. So we wish you Happy Holidays and invite you to take care of yourself this season by reading more about other people’s stories and joining the discussion about your holiday challenges and your ideas on how to make the best of this season. You can also REGISTER free to get the rest of the articles we offer. You are very welcome!