When Family Dynamics Trigger You

After all my years of being in therapy and then being a psychotherapist, one would think I would be very adept with difficult relationships. And I am with most. But sometimes with family members, I’m not as objective. There is a lot of history with them. Intellectually, I may understand what is going on, but emotionally I can still get triggered. In fact, I’ve been triggered in the last couple of days (triggered for me means being upset or angry or hurt, etc. on a deep level.) I’ve been able to make sense of it intellectually which in theory “should” enable me to take it less personally, but my heart can’t shake off the yucky feelings (even my vocabulary regresses. LOL). I can feel the walls going up and my inner voice saying, “I’m done with them.” I know this isn’t my highest self but it is real and it is me…or at least some part of me. I suppose a lot of it is ego in that it’s a storyline I’m running in my head where I’m saying I don’t deserve this. Ok, I need to regroup. I will not judge myself. I feel what I feel.

What to do when family behaviors trigger you

What would Jesus, or the Buddha, or the Dalai Lama say about this? Who cares, I find myself saying. I remember being at a mindfulness seminar led by Jack Kornfield http://Jackkornfield.com and someone asked him what to do about difficult family members. He said something about not needing to be around people who aren’t good for us…that we don’t have to play martyrs… but he also acknowledged that sometimes we have to be with them and during those times to try to make it short and to love ourselves through it.

I don’t believe the goal during these times is to shut off these uncomfortable feelings although it probably would feel better in the moment. Deadening feelings or becoming apathetic is not the goal. Feeling the feelings and moving through them in a loving way, is. I know myself well enough to know that I’ll come through this and get to a better, more loving place, but for now, rather than beat myself up, I’m working on doing my own “inner child” work http://bigselfschool.com. I’m talking to my “little girl” inside and giving her the love and nurturance she needs and wants and didn’t get when she actually was a little girl. Instead of scolding or shaming her for being upset, I’m telling her it’s okay, that she’s loved and that she will be okay…

Can any of you relate? We are approaching the Holiday Season, Thanksgiving this week and then Christmas or Hanukkah, etc. next month. For many it’s the season of family gatherings. If that’s the case for you, hopefully your family dynamics are good ones. If they are at all conflictual … may you love yourself through them … as I’m working on doing…

3 responses to “When Family Dynamics Trigger You”

  1. I can very much relate. I tend to turn into the hurt little girl I was when I am around certain family members and I agree the best way to deal with it is to acknowledge your feelings and move on.


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