The holidays can sometimes feel like a jumble of emotions. Spending time with family can bring up feelings from joy to anxiety to dread. The Thanksgiving dinners we see depicted on tv shows and movies are often vastly different than their real-life counterparts. Even if coming together with your family at the holidays is something you enjoy, it can still be hard to face all the questions and tricky topics that can come up at the table.
How to Have Open Conversations with Your Family
We all want to feel comfortable and able to communicate openly with our family, but family tends to come with a lot of emotional baggage. It could be past traumas or perceived slights, but whatever it is, it can be hard to untangle yourself from the emotions around family interactions.
In order to have healthy communication with your family, you must first feel emotionally safe. This can begin by understanding your emotional triggers. When your parents bring up the time you got into an accident and dinged up the family car, it can bring you back to those feelings of guilt or shame that you felt during that time. By understanding how that story brings up those negative emotions, you can speak with your parents ahead of time about setting boundaries around triggering topics. Explain to them that you’re not trying to dictate the topics of conversation, but rather trying to keep yourself emotionally safe so that you can better participate in the family celebrations.
Even when you have set boundaries, it is important to plan for difficult moments. There may be times when a topic comes up that you find triggering, but didn’t prepare for. If you have planned for moments like that to occur, you can implement healthy coping skills. That may look like taking a walk by yourself or calling a friend or therapist who can help you process the emotions that are coming up. When you are feeling overwhelmed, let your family know that you will need to take some space. Once you feel grounded and ready, you can come back to your family and address what about the moment you found triggering. Being able to communicate your needs can help you to create an open dialogue moving forward.
If you find your family having the same old conversations they do every year, and those families bring up negative emotions, try creating some new dialogue. Instead of rehashing grievances, try asking some questions. Conversations starters like: “What is your favorite place you have traveled?” Or “Tell me about how our family traditions got started.”, can open up a new line of conversation. By breaking the negative pattern, you have an opportunity to talk openly and find new common ground.
Red Mountain Colorado Can Help
Red Mountain Colorado was founded to help struggling teens work through behavioral and emotional challenges. We specialize in the treatment of trauma-related mental health challenges. Throughout programming, we empower teens to build healthy coping skills and habits that they can use to work through the challenges they face.
Our program is structured to treat issues like trauma and depression as well as dual diagnosis disorders. When your teen arrives at our treatment facility, our staff will assess if there are any underlying mental health symptoms. With these learnings, we take an integrated approach to create a path to psychosocial wellness. For more information please call (970) 316-7594.