Thanksgiving is long gone right now, but it’s a good a time as any to discuss this ‘syndrome’. Basically, Thanksgiving Syndrome is the idea that no matter how enlightened you’ve become or you feel, you have this tendency to revert back to your former self when back with family. If you can relate to this, you’ve probably resolved to not let Uncle Harry irritate you as he usually does or your cousin Lucy to get under your skin. You play out in your mind the booby traps that you usually fall into every reunion and imagine how this time, you will not fall in. Some people focus on how the family members should not behave in their usual ways. Others focus on how they will ‘rise above’ others’ behaviors. Yet time after time, you come out of this get-together beaten down, relapsed back to old behavior, and really depressed. Somehow, you end up being the one that acts like the ass with others looking at you with this apparently perturbed look that you are still doing the same old thing…
Family dynamics. Our family members press our buttons because they installed them. Even if you ‘ve had surgery to excise them, there still is that darned scar – so sensitive to the touch.
One thing to keep in mind, is that although you may have spent a lot of time in self-reflection, with self-help books; in therapy, your family most likely has not. The issue is not that your family members have particular quirks, behaviors, or personality flaws that are enraging. The real issue is how it affects you, and why it affects you.
Lack of acceptance is one cornerstone on issues that keep repeating. Acceptance of things as they are – good and bad – is a very important part helping to step out of the dynamic that occurs between family members and you.
One tool to address this is to practice the art of mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation is essentially focusing on what is happening to you right at the moment it is happening without judgement or criticism. More on that in another post.