happier familyThe holiday season and dysfunctional family dynamics go together like turkey and cranberry sauce or a stocking full of presents and an empty wallet.

You get in a fight with your brother about how to best carve a ham or with your sister about what temperature green bean casserole should be cooked at, your parents are breathing down your neck about your “lifestyle” choices, and it’s taking all of your energy not to walk out. While the movies and TV shows we watch this time of year imply that one cannot get through the holidays without infighting between family members, this simply is not true.

Instead of letting old grudges and anger covered in layers of hurt and bitterness ruin what could be a lovely Christmas or Hanukkah, make the decision that this year you’re going to do things differently.

Eighty percent of our emotional upset surrounds our childhood wounds.

If you keep getting in the same fights again and again with your family, it’s possible that what you’re really upset about isn’t happening now; it’s about what happened then.

Ask yourself a few questions: What are you feeling? When have you felt this way before? Now, consider the meaning you have given to the earlier events. Perhaps your arguments with your siblings about carving ham or cooking green beans aren’t about ham or green beans at all, but about feeling condescended to, or not listened to, or ignored.

Now, when you notice yourself getting upset during a disagreement about preparing dinner, take a moment to pause and reflect on your emotional response. Identify the feelings and experience them while, at the same time, stay centered and attempt to make a better choice about how to address the conflict.