Christmas can be such a hard time for a lot of people who don’t quite fit into the “happy family” model. They may have somewhere to be on Christmas Day that causes them a lot of stress. So many people I speak to feel bound by the unspoken contract that says you must follow this long-held tradition and spend Xmas with your family. To risk doing otherwise is unheard of.
It is, I think, quite ironic and very sad that in these times of being able to be connected to the entire world through our electronic devices many of us struggle to feel connected to our families or find our place within our community. Xmas can be a stark reminder of all the bumps and bruises that have been carried forward from our childhood. All the buried hurts and things said and unsaid that never quite go away. All the expectations that our family once held for us. All our own hopes and dreams that have not quite hit the mark or have been lost through circumstance or our own perceived lack of competence. There is nothing quite like your family to put you back in your place or to point out your shortcomings. And they have an uncanny knack of being able to press all the right buttons that will make you feel 10 again.
For the rest of the year we manage to get on with life and pretend we are adults, but come Christmas week all that can be lost amidst a sea of feeling anxious, alone, rejected, manipulated, smothered, resentful, misunderstood, defensive, inadequate, and the list goes on and on.
How can counselling help you get through Christmas?
One of the strengths of counselling is to guide people to a better understanding of themselves so that they can communicate more fully with those around them. Being able to survive a close encounter with our family is all about understanding our own defence mechanisms, our triggers and our reactions to their behaviour towards us. When we know the “what” and the “why” of how we get triggered, then we can respond instead of react to the jibe, comment, putdown or other remarks and behaviours. When we can communicate who we are more clearly, we give ourselves a better shot at being heard and understood.
Now, what others do with that is their business, but when you lay your head on your pillow at night it is more likely to be the things that you didn’t say that will keep you awake than the things that this “new” you did say. Being your own champion is not only powerful it’s an essential component of a healthy and balanced emotional life.
Counselling can help you understand your experience of past Christmases so that it can become a more meaningful and rewarding day this year and into the future.