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Doctors Sylvia and Milton Gearing have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth area since 1985 with compassion and professionalism.

The Gearings implement the latest in psychological research to stay at the cutting edge of their field and bring the most effective and life changing techniques to their clients.

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Grumpy Families At The Holidays - Dec 13, 2007

Grumpy Families at the Holidays

December 13, 2007

Dr. Sylvia Gearing, TXA 21 News

With the mistletoe in place and the lights on our trees, many Americans will look forward to a warm reunion with their families in the next few weeks. But psychologists warn that family gatherings don't always offer the good times we had anticipated. Here to tell us more is Channel 21 Contributing Psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing.

Q: Why are these family rituals at the holidays so important to most of us?

Dr. Sylvia: Rituals are always powerful because they automatically symbolize our connection to others. All our traditions, songs and holiday schedules remind us of our connection to the past, of the stability of family, and the positive aspects of our lives today. We use the holidays to mark where we are in life and to find our new direction.

Q: Why can our families be so difficult at the holidays?

Dr. Sylvia: The simple truth is that many of our families are just very hard to get along with. There are several reasons for this including the following:

Tangled History Makes Us Powerless: Family relationships are some of our greatest teachers. Many of us are saddled with relatives that are not only difficult, but are insufferable.

Move Past Unpleasantness: If you become the target of an impossible relative, pass by those unpleasant attacks. You are not helpless in these relationships. Move away and most of all, remain clear that it is their problem.

High Expectations: Small doses of expectations and contact will serve you better if you have a grumpy family. Expecting that difficult parent or sibling to be different is a set up, so don't put yourself in the line of fire so continuously. Don't allow your family to drain your personal resources.

Stressed Anyway: Two thirds of Americans are severely stressed at this time of year and function in a robotic thinking fog. We command ourselves to participate in holiday activities that wear us out. Guard your energy.

Q: Is the Christmas holiday worse for family tension than other holidays?

Dr. Sylvia: With out a doubt, Christmas is the most stressful holiday of the year since it ignites such deep feelings of family nostalgia and hopes that our family members will finally become the people we want them to be. Christmas is much more deeply tied to our childhood memories than any other holiday and we are hoping that these family rituals will fuel our good feelings once again, as they did in childhood. Give up those high expectations since they will only torture you.

Q: With all those family holiday meals, isn't it more difficult to watch what you are eating and drinking during the holidays?

Dr. Sylvia: According to a recent story in the Washington Post, December and January are the deadliest month of the year for heart attacks With the rich holiday meals, flowing alcohol, financial stress and logistical challenges, Americans tend to drink and eat excessively. If you add in a few challenging relatives, this stress can push you over the edge.

Q: What advice do you have for those of us who will "holidaying" with grumpy family members?

Dr. Sylvia:

Stay Cool: It is imperative to remember that you are not a contestant in the holiday sweepstakes. There is no "grade" awarded and no prize to be captured. Keep control of your own emotional reactions and take a time out if you become tense.

Private Holiday Magic: Visit with your family but leave the holiday magic to your private moments with a cherished spouse, child or even with yourself. The magic of this season is never found with others. It is always found in our hearts and in the love we have for other people.