With the Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I have noticed an increase in clients dealing with issues involving their extended family members. The pressure of entertaining and providing for the entire family may seem insurmountable when it comes time to actually enjoy time together. When clients tell me that they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed by their families, I ask what the holidays typically look like for them. Many clients tell me that they are just trying to push through and get to the other side of this time of year to a time when things will be calm again. I also have clients tell me that they block out the holidays entirely and try not to participate in any of the activities out of sheer exhaustion from the drama of past years. For others, the holidays are one of the rare times during the year that they’re able to reconnect with their family members.
The holidays become a season to dread instead of enjoy for many people for various reasons. Whether it’s a family member who seems to lack all boundaries and asks too many personal questions, or maybe someone who criticizes every dish, every detail, every choice you make – these are the types of interactions that may lead to conflict. It can be difficult to remember why you are thankful for your family when they are driving you up the wall.
This year, let’s try a different approach. This year, let’s try to truly connect with those around us. Grounding yourself and feeling centered will help you to better connect with others. Before entering into the Thanksgiving arena, take a few minutes in a quiet, peaceful place to remind yourself of why you are doing this. What are you thankful for this year? What are you glad to have in your life right now? What do you enjoy about each of these people you’re about to spend a meal, day, or week with? Then think about the ways you know how to cope with the possible stressful situations that could arise. Make a short checklist of a few possible ways to keep your emotions and boundaries in check. Maybe this year you’ll offer to take someone with you when you walk the dog to get out of the house for a few minutes. Maybe this is the year you finally sit down with the quiet family member and try to get to know them better. Maybe this is the year you do breathing exercises in a quiet room every couple of hours. Find a method that works for you, and try to find someone at the table you can connect with. As much headache or heartache as your family members seem to bring to the table, one thing is for sure – they are all there for a reason: to connect.
An Thai, MS, provides individual, couple, and family therapy in our Sterling, VA office. Call or email today to schedule an appointment or a complimentary telephone consultation with An!