As previously shared staying calm during the holidays can be a challenge. We are inclined to regress to familial norms and engage in behaviors we worked hard to stop. And although we are quite skilled at returning to a homeostatic behavior our family is just as skilled at encouraging this homeostasis. This means when at home we have be extra careful not to let this happen.
Here are few tips to help you remain calm for the holidays:
Don’t redesign your family- First of all, I don’t recommend returning home with a life altering plan that you have created to change your family. A family system never changes over night and it is best handled in small bites.
Honor Thyself- So you might have decided there are boundaries you have, that your family often neglects. Or you might have a daily ritual you want to maintain. Keep them. If you neglect yourself you are more likely to act out.
Remember to Breath- Breathing is not just having room to intake oxygen. It’s also an opportunity to take a breather. We often need space to think and feel freely. Give yourself this time. You don’t have to stay in a place you feel uncomfortable just because you are a guest or you don’t see your family often. Quality not quantity is key.
As the holiday season continues with Chanukah, Christmas, and New Years, remember to keep goals small and simple.
Have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season. I’ll see you on the other side.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of our holiday season and the first of many “fun” family gatherings. As you may have noticed we have the propensity to regress during the holidays. Since memory plays such an important role in how we see and experience the world, regression just seems organic.
Regression enables us to naturally and smoothly reenter our family of origin although so much about us has changed. Regression also means we are able to quickly access those much needed defense mechanisms. These defense mechanisms were built around and due to our families. They protect us from the pain and discomfort we know they can cause. So again it seems appropriate for us to want to quickly turn to these guides for support again.
Does embracing our regressive selves mean we set ourselves back? We for a moment did neglect the goals we have struggled so hard to achieve. We, in that second, ignored the work we have done by ourselves, with family, in therapy or with guides. So what can we possibly be thankful for?
There is still a lesson. There are always lessons. By our choice to regress and return to familial norms we have shown there is still a need to do so. Next time you find yourself regressing ask yourself some questions:
- So what happened that you needed to defend yourself?
- What do you need or did you need in that moment?
- What can you do differently next time that allow you to create a new ending to your story?
Since knowledge is often easier to obtain from discomfort. These questions will help you build an internal guide. The answers from these questions are gifts from your relationships. They are born from family reunions and our ability to regress and protect. They are gifts to give thanks for.
Madison Marriage and Family Therapy, PC