The spiritual teacher and psychologist Ram Dass recently passed away and one of his quotes rings true especially at this time of year for many;
“if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family”.
This quote came from a story Ram Dass told about spending time with his parents as an adult after being immersed in spiritual and psychological teachings. To put it simply, he still got triggered by his parents old behaviors and comments after all he learned and experienced.
If you’ve become aware of your own patterns through psychotherapy or other healing modalities, pay heed, you can still get caught up in family drama too.
There are family patterns that lie dormant during the year and the holidays seem to bring out the drama as intimacy is forced. You may be spending time with family members you don’t see or interact with much during the year. What’s the drama about?
Unhealed and undressed emotional wounds.
In the sitcom Seinfeld, the character of Frank Costanza celebrated the holiday of Festivus that was used for the “airing of grievances where each person tells everyone else all the ways they have disappointed them over the past year.”
This reminds me of what I notice at this time of year within family systems.
All the unsaid, unchecked feelings within family members arise and can show up as:
🎄Who’s not talking to who?
🎄Who won’t attend a gathering because another family member will be there?
🎄Perceived slights simmering.
🎄Making assumptions without checking it out with a person..
🎄Sarcastic comments, criticisms, put downs.
These covert, passive aggressive behaviors lack self awareness.
These family members are experiencing feelings but don’t have the skills or courage to then take the next step: having a conversation with someone to clear the air.
Some family members may be stuck in the victim archetype and checking things out with others could disrupt this role so they decide to keep festering in negativity.
Other family members may hold a deep insecurity about who they are and create a superior, holier than thou attitude placing other people below them through judgement and criticism.
Even if you walk into a family gathering and are aware, you can walk right into your old role, or the role your family put you in, in an instant.
If you are one that is holding grudges, it’s not about the other person, it’s about you being a grudge holder. If you haven’t tried to resolve the conflict, this is YOUR work. Free yourself by looking at yourself, not others. You are keeping yourself locked up in an inner dialogue that will keep repeating until you decide to change it.
If you have attempted to resolve a conflict, this is no longer your work! Let go, allow the other person to work it out on their own, don’t chase them to get resolution. Chasing may be tempting as you sit with the uncertainty, however the anxiety will pass. I know this, because I’ve had to do this in relationships. The chasing keeps you in rescuer mode and the other person doesn’t have to consider their part of the relationship.
If you get triggered this holiday ask yourself: what does this remind me of from the past? Then, get centered with hand over heart and bring yourself back to this time and this space. Choose to do it differently going forward.
Keep the self-kindness going and take care of your beautiful soul this holiday!