These connections can feel like shackles or like life-giving supply lines.
If the approaching gathering fills you more with dread than pleasurable anticipation, it may be that fear of loss is more predominant in the family than confidence in connection.
Shifting from fear to confidence is a gradual process that won't be complete by next week, but you can start it now, and each family gathering that comes along will allow you to practice new approaches and observe the changes that result. Here are 5 things to think about.
- Should I attend this family gathering? If you feel your choice is between guilt for not going and resentment for being pressured to attend, pick the guilt. The guilt is a false guilt, while the resentment is genuine.
- If you decide to go, with or without resentment, use the opportunity to
a. observe family process and
b. pause before responding when you feel stressed by family interactions
- Afterwards, take what you've observed, review past interactions and see what patterns start to emerge.
- Start working on a one-to-one relationship with one or more family members. Remember, easy does it. If it seems too overwhelming with a particular person, pick a relationship where it isn't quite as charged. Whoever you pick, find a comfortable connection with an activity or conversation about safe issues.
- Keep doing this all year until the next gathering, and be alert for shifts in the family interaction patterns day-to-day and at get-togethers. The shifts, including those within yourself, may be subtle and go unnoticed if you are not paying attention.
But there is hope to break the stranglehold and allow the love and support to flow freely.
Then the gathering can be a celebration instead of a grim duty!
If this resonates and you want a coach in your corner when working to shift these entrenched patterns, contact me for a free phone consultation.