Holidays, Relationships, and Emotional Landmines


Emotions and Empathy
Holidays, typically are a time that provides the opportunity for families to spend time together in positive relationship-affirming activities. Also, holiday events and gatherings heightens potential for dysfunction within relationships to surface because of the stress that is placed upon people who are not accustomed to spending a lot of time together in close proximity. It is like the cold season when a bacterium thrives because the conditions are right and someone sneezes.

Holidays are the petri dish for people to experience hyperactivation of emotions and compulsive behaviors that normally are dormant because of distance and natural boundaries that work along with other responsibilities place upon life. There is a profound reminder about how fragile human beings are during the holidays with the broken things carried within that no one sees. There are things that people often need help with and close contact magnifies personalities, personal problems, and the potential clash of worlds. In the words of one person’s experience with a betrayal:

Pain and treachery from the hand of someone that should
love you is most problematic. I expect it from my enemy.
Hurt from a loved one doesn’t have the benefit of
expectation or barriers giving the hot knife of betrayal
free course. How do I relate to this person? Like Christ
related to Judas. Christ’s love was so uninhibited that
Judas and the disciples couldn’t even identify the evil
one among them. Judas’ hypocrisy was so precise the others
didn’t suspect him. The most effective hate is that which
is hidden in love.

The truth in the words spoken so fitly about betrayal resonates the pain and violation deeply felt from an individual who lives within the confines of a close relationship in life experience emotionally damaged. Observation shows that trust extended to persons over the course of a relationship becomes deceptive in itself and deceit easily conceals its face in the guise of love. Suddenly behavior surfaces in the form of betrayal, a lack of civility and hypocrisy beneath the superficial; it is hard to know how to respond. Indeed, at those moments, we will not rise to the level of Christ who securely knows all men. Surely, it is hard to know the intent of the person and it is difficult to accept the sting of betrayal while trying to find ways to relate when the offender has acted freely causing personal damage without accountability. How difficult it is to transcend human emotion at a table prepared in the presence of unresolved betrayal cloaked in the context of relationship and perceived trust.

Human behavior and emotions are powerful forces and govern the way we experience quality or difficulty in relational engagement with others. One of the important components of holidays hinges upon traditions coupled with memories and associated emotions felt. The important point to remember is that you are the author of your happiness, so make the choices to foster your version of an enjoyable holiday no matter what other people choose to do. What do you think would provide a holiday celebration less chaotic without land mines underneath the turkey and dressing? Here is what I think:

1. Decide on a plan for the ways you will be involved in holiday celebrations or someone else will decide it for you.

2. Decide on the people that you are going to spend time with and the boundaries for the relationships or conversations. Know your limits and keep them.

3. Stay away from toxic conversations and private conversation with people who steal your joy.

4. Spend your time with children and enjoy the simple joys of the day.
5. Don’t stay too long, drink too much, or talk too much.

6. Remember that holidays are short and relationships are for life, so do your best to be kind to yourself and to others.

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