Holidays and Family

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, December 22, 2021
By Carlos Escanilla, LMHC

The holidays are the perfect time to reflect on our relationships, establish goals for connecting with our family, and set the groundwork for those relationships in the upcoming year. If you only see your family a handful of times a year, I encourage you to take some time before your family holiday shindig to think about your relationship goals and the goals you have already achieved throughout the year. Many of you are probably rolling your eyes thinking sarcastically, “Right, my goal this year is to not fight with Aunt Karen about politics.” Well, in a word, YES.

Santa with sign Merry

Reflecting on past family gatherings and preparing yourself for the upcoming family tensions is a productive way to approach the holidays. And ensure you have a good time and create meaningful memories without fighting over who gets the best part of the Lechon.

The key is to process resentments you may have toward others. This consumes us. Resentment has been described as, “drinking the poison but waiting for the other to die”. Dark? Yes. True? Also Yes. However, it is necessary to understand that only we can decide to alleviate resentments toward our friends and family. By doing so, we can let go and then create a fresh new enjoyment when we are around our loved ones.

So, how do we do this? It’s a process:

  1. Identify the person you resent
  2. What was the action (What do you feel they did to you?)
  3. What primary emotion did they make you feel? (unseen, insignificant, invisible, dismissed, devalued, discounted)

Once we do this for each person, we now have an opportunity to revisit our perception of these incidents. We can ask questions about the situation:

  1. Did they mean ill by that?
  2. Is there another way of looking at the situation?
  3. Was I going through something at the time that would have made me interpret the action differently than it was intended?
  4. Rather than taking it personally, was the person just projecting their own issues?

You get the idea. We can use this to alleviate our negative feelings about the person.

So again, why do this? Understanding and alleviating resentments can do the following:

  1. It opens up emotional space to focus on your own growth.
  2. You can approach those friends and family more positively, making room for new conversations and memories.
  3. And overall, the fact that you are proactive toward resentments yields better relationships and overall peace.

So this holiday season rather than dread having to see certain people, instead be excited that you can give them another chance with peace and joy. This is actually considered self-care. You’ll understand how once you try it.

And once you do, you can then express gratitude for all of your relationships. Happy Holidays!


“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” — Helen KellerHANDS IN SHAPE OF HEARTS