By Kris Reece, Counselor, Author, Speaker
The holiday’s are a time of celebration, filled with parties, food and gift giving. But what happens when the holidays no longer feel like a time of celebration, they feel more like obligation.
Many of you have heard of the codependency but I’m guessing you haven’t given it a second thought as to how it relates to the holidays.
Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship.
But like many codependent relationships, something needs to change. The codependent either needs to learn more healthy ways to related or just break up. Since breakups are not usually an option for codependents, than learning how to related and manage relationships are the key to lasting happiness.
The same is true for the holidays. Many of us relate to the holidays in a codependent manner. We give in to its demands, we succumb to its expectations and we are left feeling empty and angry.
But we can change; we don’t have to break up with Christmas to find relief.
Here are the top three holiday stressors that cause us to go from healthy functioning adults to complete codependents.
- Gift Giving. While gift giving is a wonderful feeling. It is more blessed to give than to receive, right? We cross over into credit card debt and “one uping” last years gift in an effort to meet the expectation. I would like to know who set this standard and why are we living by it? We are called to be cheerful givers. I’m not to cheerful when I look at a credit card statement the following month and feel like I need to repent.
Keep your spending in line with what you are comfortable with. If someone is going to judge you for it, than it’s quite easy to see what they were liking you for. We all know that giving should come from the heart, so put your credit cards away and you’ll feel more like a “cheerful” giver.
- Parties – parties happen all year long. You could find a party almost every weekend and a few during the week if you looked hard enough, but we don’t attend all of these functions throughout the year, why do we feel compelled to do it at holiday time? Did you know that holiday time is the time when most people are susceptible to illness? Because we are running around trying to attend every event, eating foods that would constipate a buffalo and not giving our bodies ample time to rest. If you feel “obligated” to attend these parties, please consider your codependency to Christmas.
- Family- Holiday time is a time to spend quality time with our families, but what happens when your family isn’t quality? For most clients that I counsel, this time of year brings dread instead of joy because of the time they are expected to spend with family. Since codependency is doing what you feel you are obligated to do, consider doing what makes you happy around the holidays. Many people suffer from emotional abuse during the holidays because of time with their family. Just because they are family doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate inappropriate, uncomfortable behavior. You wouldn’t allow it with anyone else would you? (I hope not) than why do it with your family? Many families feel that just because they are family that they are allowed to treat you in ways you don’t like and you have to tolerate it, because “We’re family”
Consider this. If you decided to take a break or limit time with your dysfunctional family this year, it may just open the door to future talks and growth.
Despite what the media tries to portray, there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas, so the sooner we give up the notion, the sooner we can move forward into what we find to be an enjoyable festive season.
Determine for yourself what would make your Christmas merry and set your own standard.
It’s time to end your codependent relationship to the holidays.