Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dreading the Holidays?

We all have them:  Those awful memories of family get-togethers gone bad.  We mean well.  We plan for a holiday to share with loved ones and this time it will be different...but then.. we revert to our old habits.  Arguments ensue, feelings are hurt and soon, we begin to dread getting together again.

What do you do? Often, our expectations for what we want to happen does not match with reality.  We have our own versions of what happened which often differ from someone else's perspective.  We have our own biases and preferences and when others do not do as we expect or want, then what?

We even imagine those perfect holiday scenes and find ours never measure up.  A quote I read that emphasized how we blame others or ourselves for this perceived failure is "It's not you and it's not only you."  Everyone contributes in their own way to the enjoyment or problems that can arise. Trying to understand the other person's perspective promotes greater understanding and harmony.

There are certain conversations that my family tries to avoid because all of us know it will end badly.  We have that "silent agreement" among us to save those conversations with like-minded family members or friends because agreeing to disagree seems to work best.  We know we will not be able to persuade someone to our point of view, making someone right and the other wrong, or someone gets to win and the other's expense.

Something I have noticed at every one of my family gatherings is how we revert to roles we played when we were growing up.  Even though we are all adults with adult children, those old familiar roles are dormant until we get together.  It is during those times, when we do not relate as the adults we are that the problems begin.  And, adding alcohol to the mix increases the tension, as it is like pouring gas on the "taking things personally" fire.

The holidays can be reminders of better times in our lives as well.  Sometimes, that becomes an emotionally polarized situation. Although we remember happy times with loved ones who have passed away, we are also sad to be without them during a time that emphasizes family.  It can be somewhat awkward and difficult to attend a holiday gathering that include spouses or significant others when you are alone.

Everyone copes with holiday gatherings in their own way.  Try to remain open and accepting of situations that arise while you keep in mind the reason you are gathering.  You can find something about the occasion to enjoy and appreciate - other than the cookies!

Kathy Thome is passionate about using the therapeutic relationship to help you achieve your personal goals.  She is proficient in multiple approaches and will work with you to find that which is best suited to your needs. 
Kathy is skilled in working with many issues.  She has extensive experience helping individuals with depression, anxiety, grief, and the development of interpersonal skills that foster growth and esteem. 
Prior to her counseling career, Kathy was a high school teacher and a school counselor, which gives her a unique perspective and insight related to adolescents as well as parenting.  She worked with suicide prevention groups and also founded the first LGBTQ group (Gay Straight Alliance) at her high school.
Kathy is a state certified Licensed Professional Counselor, earning her Master’s Degree in Counseling from Western Illinois University.
In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, including those with four legs.

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