Holiday Season and ‘Toxic Family Members’
| Published: 3 October 2023 | 15 min read
| Published: 3 October 2023 | 15 min read
As the holidays approach us, this is the time of year where family generally gather together and often spend more time together than usual. I have noticed that this time of year, though to me, is so beautiful, also tends to trigger us. In working with my clients, I notice that there is an increase in familial discord and upset.
The Holidays can bring up the pain of family members we have lost. We are more aware of the empty place within us that perhaps we have never really healed. All of the joyous and happy family get-togethers and planning can shine a bright light on our own pain.
For example, when we have shut down parts of ourselves (our joy let’s say) and we see and experience other people fully owning their own joy, this triggers parts of us that we can not experience. Then sub-consciously it is as if we have a 3-year-old part inside that says. “I can’t feel joy and happiness! Why does she get to experience joy so easily!?” All of a sudden the person owning their happiness is the enemy.
I have heard and seen how seemingly mean and destructive, people can be to close family members whom they really do love. I become curious for a moment about how this behavior can be? How can someone so drastically devastate someone they love with vile words and shame.
The person sitting in this dark judgmental place? They are in deep deep pain. They have attempted to use addictions and coping mechanisms throughout their entire life to stop feeling the internal self- hatred or self-rejection that they have been living with for a very long time. The way in which they attempt to externalize their pain and block feeling it is to project it outside of them onto someone else. Usually, their target is the most caring and close person in their life. This is mind-boggling to the unfortunate person whom these vicious behaviours are aimed at.
This person is usually devastated and just can not comprehend why they are the target of such hurtful behavior.
When we are in pain, we tend to have addictions that can help keep us out of our felt sense, our feelings and our emotions. Commonly, folks will reach for alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, promiscuous sexual relationships, overeating or emotional eating and to be honest quite frequently, Over Working.
Over working keeps us busy, out of our felt sense and distracted. We can focus completely outside of our own experience and focus on the tasks at hand. Now imagine that this person loses their job, has an accident that causes them to sit around and actually rest and be still or an illness that caused the same. Oh Boy, now they have lots of quiet time to feel the pain they have been distracting from for so long.
For someone who is experiencing intense pain, they will feel completely overwhelmed and out of control when their coping mechanisms are taken away from them
They now have to fully be with the pain that they have been blocking themselves from their entire life. Their anxiety sky rockets, they experience overwhelming shame and worthlessness.
In order to get a break from these intense feelings, they do whatever they can to distract themselves once again.
Often, their close relationships will be the target of their pain.
This is incredibly damaging to both people. Not only is the person coping with withdraw of coping mechanisms in great pain but now their target is also being triggered.
What if the target person has been struggling with their own shame and pain and have been doing well in their growth and healing? All of the sudden they are now thrown into their pain even more than before because if their close family member is attacking their worth, it must mean that they are defective and worthless, right?
Please know that if you are experiencing these types of attacks by anyone, especially family members, It Is Not About You! At all!
This is about them, their own inner pain and self-rejection. Not you.
I recommend that if you are experiencing these types of situations and are finding that they are triggering your own inner pain, that you find a Therapist to pursue your own inner work. To learn how to have a loving and healing relationship with yourself and pursue the strength to recognize that anything another person does or says to you, Is Never about you.
If you are a person who resonates with this concept of projecting your deep inner pain onto family, friends, or even strangers, then I recommend that you attempt to recognize these traits within yourself and seek a Therapist to assist you in re-discovering the relationship you have with yourself. Learn how to heal your shame and strategies to help your own Inner Critic perhaps have a different more positive role in your system rather than constantly telling you how bad, stupid or worthless you are.
Because you are not those things. You are as deserved of the love, kindness, acceptance and patience that everybody else is.
We have all heard the term, “Don’t take it personally” and this is I feel, is one of the most important lessons we as humans could learn. When we can stop taking the actions and behaviours of others personally and making them about us, life is so much more calm, serene and beautiful.
We can start this work anytime in our life and I suggest starting right now.
Really think about what you have just read, and decide, when do you want to start loving and honouring yourself?
Now sounds good to me!