Christmas is the party that is about togetherness, peace and enjoyment together, which you usually celebrate with family.
And let those things sometimes be sensitive or even difficult with those people, so that Christmas can cause stress.
The expectations and obligations surrounding this celebration produce interesting family patterns every year.
The Drama Triangle is a powerful tool for negative play
learn to recognize patterns in yourself and relationships.
The roles are unconscious and repetitive and we learn to play them in our family, as a way/pattern to meet our needs when we are young.
Every family system has its own conscious and unconscious patterns that have arisen from previous generations to keep things together, functional or not.
A functionally healthy family focuses on the well-being and happiness of every member of the family, based on the togetherness, safety and connection of the family.
And something goes wrong there more often than most families want and or can admit because not all members of the family can or want to change, patterns often prove to be stubborn.
The result is an unconscious adjustment to your real needs and the assumption of a certain role in the drama triangle for the sake of “harmony” in the family.
So once these roles were useful because you were dependent as a child, but as adults they are no longer necessary and may even be destructive.
At Christmas we place ourselves back in this old dynamic and the balance in the family, whether or not present, suddenly becomes clearly tangible again and that is not always fun.
However, if you become aware of what exactly is happening and what your traditional role has been, choices arise.
Choices to get out of the game and celebrate the holidays in a way that you can really enjoy it, without putting yourself in the corners of the drama triangle.
The triangle consists of three positions and roles;
When we land in one position, we are in the triangle, and as the game progresses, we often shift to another position. The outcome is always a negative feeling, because in the end we have not communicated our true pain, needs, desires or boundaries, but have subconsciously chosen the drama triangle.
When you are in the position of the Savior, you care and do more during Christmas than the other. You probably always go out of your way at Christmas and the family likes to eat with you. You pay a lot of care and attention to the right presents and the dinner is composed in such a way that it is tasty for everyone and your house is also clean, cozy and fully decorated.
In short, you are the saving Christmas angel of the whole family and probably always have been. You are also good at that and you also do it out of love.
But why is it such a battle every year and are you the only one who ends up with a confused Christmas haircut and sloshing armpits only towards the end of the Christmas dinner on a chair, at that Christmas table you decorated?
Everyone else can always enjoy so relaxed…
When you are in the savior position, you often build up resentment that puts you in the role of the Accuser.
When you are in the position of the Prosecutor you unconsciously blame the other person in the game and therefore the responsibility of your accumulated rotten feeling.
“Look at your sisters sitting relaxed at that table”. “The same every year”. “Not a finger lifted”. “Not even asked if they could help you with anything.” “Yes, just with dessert”. “Well, leave it alone, I’ll do it myself.” “They are just too lazy and spoiled to arrange something for the family.”
“And daddy should be interested in their career”. “He only asks me all evening if there is still that nice wine”. “And I don’t have a problem with my husband either, he pours well again”. “And of course the children have to go to bed in a moment.” “I will have to do that again…”.
When you’re in the accuser’s position, you often build up frustration that puts you in the role of the victim.
In the role of the Victim you mainly undermine yourself. You do experience this as if life, family, Christmas, or anything outside of yourself, is undermining you on purpose. But in the end it’s you.
Victims expect that only others can solve the bad feeling for them and do not believe that they themselves, but often also do not believe that others ever will.
In this family pattern around Christmas, your role is simply that of the savior and that you are the victim of that because you let this happen, does not even occur to you. “Christmas is an exhausting time and your family will never change, so it is what it is”. “Nobody cares about me”. “They don’t even notice me.” “For me, Christmas is no longer necessary, but saying something about it makes no sense”
Participants shift position depending on the situation and often have a preferred position in relation to certain family members, so that the same game is played every time.
The strange thing is that the relatives concerned are often not aware of the way they behave. They imprison themselves and the other in the symbiosis of the game.
That’s why Christmas with your family can trigger so much old pain and resistance and make changes so difficult.
Get out of the Christmas drama triangle
Review your Christmas drama triangle patterns and take action to get out of it.
For example, you know by now that you usually confront everyone after a few glasses of wine and become the family scapegoat again.
That you take all the responsibility for Christmas dinner and everyone else shows up alone.
That your father won’t take you seriously at the table again and really asks what’s on your mind.
That your mother will not give you something that really suits you, but chooses a gift that she likes herself.
That you passively wait for others to make it a good Christmas for you and be disappointed when they don’t.
That you say yes to everything and everyone you get exhausted again.
That you take responsibility for bringing people together who don’t invest energy in being together.
2. Plan ahead
Just like a game of chess with yourself, you need to get ahead of these patterns and shorten the subconscious momentum by feeling and planning ahead so you don’t slip into these habits again.
For example, plan how to avoid heated discussions and conflicts.
Promise yourself to say no to what you don’t really want to do.
Let others also take responsibility for experiencing their part in being connected even if it is not your way.
Simplify your Christmas to-do list.
3. Be honest
Get off the fence of obligation. Commitment is a kind of “sitting on the fence” where you don’t say a full yes or a full no to an experience. The part of you that is subconsciously committed to others doing something or not saying something bulldozes over the part of you that doesn’t want to do or say that thing. This is a form of self-betrayal. Be honest and loyal to yourself, make a choice and jump off the fence.
If people or patterns in your family are ruining Christmas for you and they aren’t open to a vulnerable, authentic discussion about how things can be done differently, accept that you can’t change these people. Expecting things to be different one magical day is one of the biggest ways to hurt yourself. Your resistance to the way they are makes perfect sense, but it won’t change them. It will only leave you chronically disappointed and hurt. If mom can’t be expected to buy you something you care about, go to the store yourself. If Dad can be expected to question you about what “nonconforming” things you do with your life, surround yourself with people who do see the value of what you do. And go prepared, with answers to give to Christmas dinner with him.
When it comes to the holiday season, don’t expect that signature fairytale Christmas highlight and don’t try to force it. No one’s family, Christmas or actual life is perfect. Unfortunately, life (which is full of triggers and challenges) doesn’t stop during the holidays. Those perfect moments come when you least expect it and relax.
Create your own new ways and traditions to make Christmas relaxing for you by taking charge of creating your ‘unique Christmas’ that you look forward to every year. Break free from passive patterns that bother you and enjoy this holiday season in a way that suits the feeling of peace and togetherness for you. This is how you turn the energy of Christmas from ′′ subconsciously undergoing and collecting ′′ to ′′ consciously experiencing and giving ′′ and that ultimately gives the Christmas feeling.
I send you lots of Christmas love.
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