More often than not, people tell me how drained they feel after spending holidays with their family. No matter how much love is present – family can be exhausting! But why?
The benefits of being with close family are evident. As social beings, it is very satisfying to feel connected. We have long and complex history with our family members. We have experienced joys, rituals, and adventures together, along with heartache, fallouts, and communication breakdowns. This history of shared experience allows us an emotional intimacy that is unique and important.
There is an ease in the predictability of being with family – even if it is chaos that is predictable. We are able to be vulnerable in the presence of our family, or at least are able to remember a time when we were. Shared laughter about silly childhood happenings, long standing inside jokes, amusement at the youngest members of the family toddling around or saying things only little kids say… Even at our most guarded, these small moments elicit a sense of vulnerability that allows us to feel connected, even in the presence of adversity.
So why do we often feel so drained after spending a prolonged period of time with these people whom we love and with whom we have such a rich history? And how can we protect ourselves from this family burnout?
All relationships are complex, especially within families. What is common to all family situations is that each individual is required to manage many relationships, and at the same time maintain their own sense of self, their own needs, and their sense of balance. It is not an easy task!
Listed below are some tips that may help. As with anything that I ever write, suggest, reference, or assign as homework, take from it what is helpful, leave what is not, and stick with what resonates best for you.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and joyful November!
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