Christmas, Hanukah or Summertime periods usually mean spending time with the family we grew up with. The same individuals that taught us about boundaries, often pushed our buttons, and the same kinfolk that were most likely the reason we decided to move away from home and forge a life of our own. Welcome to Family Dynamics 101 – Western Society Style.
Do you interact harmoniously with your family members who are considerably different to you or do you clash horribly? Irrespective of your answer, the fact is, we don’t always see eye to eye with our loved ones, and that’s OK.
We choose our friends but don’t always get to choose our family members. What we can choose however, is the way we respond to certain situations. I’ve discussed this in quite some detail during my kinesiology sessions and in some of my yoga classes. One of my clients had said “my sister got out of rehab a few years ago and every time there’s a family function, the worst type of drama ensues. Her behaviour constantly demands attentions in the most immature way and when she doesn’t get it, she attacks my brother and I and then lies to my parents about what happened. I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that my parents pander to her childish needs, or that this behaviour is still occurring in our 30’s”.
This is a common story that many of us can relate to one some level, be it with a parent that has an excessive need for attention, a sibling or even a child. Sometimes it’s not even a need for attention. Instead it’s a drug, alcohol, mental health or just a good old-fashioned personality clash.
Regardless of what is going on in your family, its important to remember that our boundaries are personal to us and won’t necessarily be applicable across all interpersonal relationships within your family. If you need space from a sibling, or a parent, don’t expect that the rest of your family will respond in the same way. Likewise if there has been a clash among your family members, try not to get caught up in their drama.
Things to Consider
It Takes 2 to Tango
Yes, I know this is hard to hear, harder still if you dance salsa and they dance lambada, the point is unless you’re both in harmony with the same beat, the rhythm that speaks to your respective hearts will be vastly different.
Are you in your centre?
If you’re not, chances are you’re prone to being triggered by old patterns. Are you overworked? Have you been socializing too much? Remember it usually takes a while to unwind from the perils of hard work.
What’s most important to you right now?
This is a seemingly simple question, but take a moment to consider this, as our answer is likely to change each year. If you asked me last year, I would have said to be happy but this year it’s to have peace and harmony in my life and with my family. What’s most sacred to you? Peace? Is being right important to you? If it is, consider that not everyone will agree with your perspective..
Is the past part of your present?
Are your past interactions so pertinent that they are still part of your everyday dialogue? Is this the basis of your connection with many people in your life? It might be worth considering whether or not this is healthy for you.
Who do you need to honour this holiday season?
Is it your parents your children or siblings? Is it more important that your kids get to snuggle with grandma while she’s in the country or is it crucial that you have the space away from certain relatives while you process your own emotions? Be clear on what you need to honour and stick to it as best you can.
How can you compromise so that everyone can be happy?
Is splitting the holiday an option so one party gets Christmas Eve and the other gets Christmas Day? Or can you do alternate holidays? Remember that our needs are always changing. What is right for one year won’t necessarily be right for the following year.
Have a back up plan
So despite your best intentions, things didn’t go according to plan. What now? What’s your back up plan? What can you do to honour the current space you’re in? Is going for a walk an option? If you’ve travelled interstate do you have a getaway possibility for a little while?
Sometimes the tough period we experience with our family is temporary, and in other situations, it’s about accepting that one of our loved ones will never be the same. What do you need to do to make sure you’re supported emotionally? How will you be spending the holidays this year?