Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 3

Over the last couple of days, I’ve shared with you some of my thoughts about why spending time with our families can be stressful, sometimes enough to leave us feeling a little crazy. Feelings of anxiety, confusion, frustration, guilt, being blamed, and other “crazy” emotions when we’re with our families aren’t uncommon. In Part 1, I described how these feelings can result from relational trauma, which happens when we’re emotionally wounded, blamed for our pain, and shunned when we attempt to reconnect. In Part 2, I explained that we might also see these feelings as the outcome of subtle ways of being with our loved ones; the more discordant notes in a family’s melody, the more intense our crazy feelings often become.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 2

This time of year, as Paul McCartney sings in his classic tune, the mood is right, the spirits are up, but that doesn’t always mean that you’re having a wonderful Christmas time. Indeed, in case you missed it, in Part 1 of this series, I considered what visiting family for the holidays can bring up—anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, shame, and other “crazy” feelings, other painful feelings that you may even feel guilty about or that cause you to second-guess your emotional experiences. As we saw, one way to make sense of these feelings is to understand them as the result of relational trauma, which happens when someone we really care about hurts you, blames you for being hurt, and rebuffs your efforts to reconnect. These “crazy” feelings become more intense around family as members interact with and hurt each other in familiar ways.

Why the Holidays Can Drive You Crazy (& What to Do about It): Part 1

For many, the holidays truly are the most wonderful time of the year—a time of gathering with family, being close with loved ones, revisiting old memories, and making new ones. The title of this post and my post last year notwithstanding, I love the holidays, as I have many fond memories of being with my family around our Christmas tree as a boy. Being with family and friends is still deeply meaningful to me and to most of us.

 

However, starting a few weeks before Thanksgiving and throughout December, I frequently hear of anxiety, frustration, and even dread this time of year, because just as it’s a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones, it’s also a time of gathering with family and being close with loved ones. Visiting family can be wonderful indeed, but if we’re honest, the holidays can you drive you crazy. Why is this, and what can you do to make your family time merry and bright?