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The Holidays are an Emotional Landmine

The holidays are a veritable emotional landmine and this year feelings are even more raw. One false step and WHAM! You are in severe pain and your relationships are in trouble. Here are three steps to help you heal hurt feelings.

How does it happen and what can you do about it?

How it happens is that we have special expectations for the holidays (or our birthday, or Valentine’s Day, etc.) that have to do with resolving old hurts and finding healing. Just because the hurts are old doesn’t mean they aren’t extremely “present”. The part of our brain that feels these things isn’t convinced by logic, or comforted by the passing of time. They are there and they are real. Because our parents may have neglected or abused us, we hope that this year they will finally realize it and make amends…or our significant other will be able to make us feel special enough to let go of that old insecurity …or our friend will be understanding enough to help us feel better, etc. When our spouses, friends and parents fail yet again, even though we have had clear communication about it like all the therapists tell us to do, we just don’t know what to do, and it still hurts so very much.

At this point, some people will look for a different spouse or a different friend, thinking their spouse does not love them and their friend does not care. I just hate seeing my clients in such pain at this time of year, so I’m going to share my plan of how to get out of this mess – and stay out, (and no, I don’t want you to get divorced, or throw away your relationships.)

Step One:

Decide you don’t want to feel bad anymore. Very simple. You have felt bad long enough.

Step Two:

Decide that “You don’t get to make me feel bad anymore.” Make a declaration of independence. “By the way, we won’t be sending you taxes anymore. I’ve had enough of taxation without representation. He’s not my king…I didn’t vote for him.” Make up your own declaration. Sometimes it helps to combine an action with this. For example, if your mother is the one who has made you feel bad, do something you aren’t supposed to do to let your brain know there’s a new sheriff in town. If you aren’t supposed to “be the pretty one” go out and buy yourself something gorgeous. If it’s your spouse who has hurt you, go out and do for yourself what (s)he has not done – and enjoy it. (NOTE – I am not telling you to have an affair!)

Step Three:

With kindness and compassion for yourself, take the hurt out of the active file and file it in the dead file. Nothing will be added to it and nothing will be taken away from it. It exists, but you don’t need to mess with it. There is no action required. You are done.

Please schedule an appointment with me if you need me to support you in this. It often helps to have the right person by your side when you make a significant change.