Each family has its own unique relationships and dynamics.These dynamics often have a strong influence on the way people see themselves, others and the world around them. The Family of Origin influences relationships, behaviours and general wellbeing. Christmas can be a real test for people who have challenging family dynamics as time spent together increases, and emotions can run high. Add in other factors like stress, alcohol, tiredness and the mask of politeness can fade when people can feel entitled to air their views. Lets face it, no-one has the ability to push your buttons quite like family!
No matter how far people have evolved in their own lives, we can all find ourselves reverting to certain roles within our family structure and this can be uncomfortable or cause tension as we balance who we were as a child with who we are now, as independent adults.
For times like Christmas, there are a few things that you can do to mind yourself in the face of potential family challenges.
Manage your stress in your favourite way – going for a walk, reading a book, meeting a friend – do whatever makes you feel good over the Christmas break so you get to enjoy the time.
Manage your communications – if someone insists on airing their opinions give them five minutes, excuse yourself & take a break in the garden or a different room, then start a conversation with someone else on your return.
Manage your time – decide which family events you will be attending and those you won’t. Give people plenty of notice so that expectations are set, thereby avoiding unnecessary conflicts.
As Christmas is an emotional time for many, it may not be the best time to try to work out deep seated issues. If a family issue is impacting your day to day life, think about addressing it properly in the new year. Bringing an accredited psychotherapist into the picture can facilitate a healthy, productive and professional approach to the process. You can then work towards a more positive 2023 as a family.
Psychotherapists are trained to help people with challenging Family Dynamics. You can search the IAHIP Psychotherapist Directory for these particular issues.
On the Directory page, simply type Family Dynamics into the ‘Areas of Interest’ Box:
For more information on Family Dynamics, you can access articles from our professional journal - Inside Out. Go to the top left of this website page and enter ‘Family Dynamics’ into the search box.