one thing during the holidays...

"If you think you're enlightened go spend a week with your family." Ram Dass

The holidays bring out the best and the worst in people. There is something magical about slowing down and focusing on the people you love most in the world. And, there is also something incredibly triggering about focusing on the people you love most in the world. Even for the most enlightened amongst us.

In family, as in all in intimate relationships, you are at your most vulnerable. You crave belonging, and that craving makes you vulnerable to rejection. After all, it’s a human drive to connect, to bond, to attach. In fact, research shows that we barely survive and certainly don’t thrive without it. Scientifically speaking, we refer to this intensely human drive as attachment.  It’s also the very place your vulnerability emerges from that drive to attach.  

During the holidays, just like everyday, your mind is busy trying to regulate this drive. You want to connect, but you don’t want to be rejected.

You, me, all of us...we make constant bids to connect. When these bids go well, you feel good. You feel heard, seen, and accepted. And this helps you feel safe and secure in the presence of the people you love. All this makes for good connection flow. But when these bids don’t go so well,  you feel defensive, invisible, that your thoughts and feelings don’t matter. That compromises connection. And often, it triggers a domino effect of reactions that disconnect you.

During the holiday season, you may find that you want more attention and connection from the people you love. Or, you may find that you withdraw. This is completely understandable if you aren’t use to your need for connection being satisfied or if you’ve experienced loss.

You're human seeking security.

What I’d like to help you shift your attention to this holiday season is that this is dance of connection and disconnection is true for all of us, in all intimate relationships (between couples, parent/child, siblings, the “just like family” friends, and colleagues).

And it’s true for me too as a relationship therapist. Yep, my skin gets prickly and I get triggered when I go home for the holidays too. Gasp. There I said it. I’m simply not that enlightened...yet.

Here’s one thing I know for sure: the beautiful mess of relationships, the desire for connection and reflection and learning in the missed opportunities -- it all offers awesome opportunities to tune in and find your {re}connection.

The painful, sticky less enlightened moments remind you to slow down and pay attention. By slowing down you take back control. You reset your focus and tune back into yourself in relationships and into what really matters to you.

Be thankful for these sweet-sticky moments; they guide you towards connection with the people you love most.