How to Survive the Holidays (and not end up in jail) Part 1

How to Survive the Holidays (and not end up in jail) Part 1

Welcome one and all to our guide on surviving the holidays! (Part 1)

If you are one of those rare individuals who do not have family drama, conflict, or a long lost relative that chooses to reappear during the holiday season, that’s wonderful. For the majority of the population, the holidays seem to bring something out of those around us that we did not know was there (or that we desperately wanted to forget). Join me as we dive into not only how to survive this holiday season, but thrive. Now, thriving might still look like booking multiple therapy sessions come January, but no jail time is a win.

 


Guidepost 1: Gaining awareness

For those of you who have been in therapy at Phenix or have seen any of the Justin and Caitlin show (which will be returning for a season 2 btw), you have likely heard of the term “inner child”. For those of you who have not heard of this yet, our “inner child” is a part of us that represents our child self. The child self, when integrated, brings with it joy, spirituality, curiosity, and playfulness.

In general, our inner child loves to idealize situations and people, especially our family. It is an honest and vulnerable part of us that desperately wants our parents’ love, affirmation, and acceptance. For many people, their parents were either unable or unwilling to provide one of those qualities. The holidays then become the perfect time for the inner child to jump on the idealization train and hope that this year will be different. This is why the first step of surviving the holidays is gaining awareness of this tendency from little you. 


There’s nothing morally or inherently wrong with wanting your family’s love and acceptance. We are wired for connection and the foundational connection we crave is from our parents. However, if we continue to idealize the family members every year, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment.

Which leads me to my next guidepost…

 

Guidepost 2: Gain awareness (of others)

I truly believe people can heal and relationships can be redeemed. With that belief, also comes a hearty dose of reality. Healthy relationships take authenticity and vulnerability, which requires a healthy amount of self awareness and desire to grow from each individual. Unfortunately, many families do not have relationships with each other that would be described as authentic and vulnerable. Gaining awareness of family patterns and dynamics will be vital. Here are some questions to ask:

How do the family members typically react to one another?

Is there a certain family member who consistently creates drama during the holidays?

Who becomes more stressed as Thanksgiving and Christmas inch closer? Why?

Who in the family is safe and healthy to talk to? 

Who models authenticity and vulnerability?

How is the communication level? Do family members actually talk things out peacefully, or are problems avoided until a blow up occurs? (if it ever occurs)

People typically behave in the same patterns until significant work has been done to change and heal. Depending on what you have seen from holidays past, it is a safe bet to assume this holiday will be similar. 

Now that we have a place from which to begin, join me next week as we discuss the action steps you can take to take care of yourself during this time.

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