This week marks Passover and Easter, plus it’s Spring Break for many. Ultimately, this means people are anticipating or planning some family gatherings and/or trips “back home,” which can be both exciting and stressful. Even before our family arrives or we get to our destinations, the anxiety often takes on a life of its own in our minds:
Will Uncle Ted get drunk again and talk about his “glory days” in front of my kids? Will Aunt Josie comment about my weight? Will Grandma try to feed my toddler her famous peanut brittle because, as she says, “A little peanut brittle never hurt anybody,” even though I keep telling her he’s allergic? Will my dad tell that really-not-funny story about my first period? Again?
Or will everyone behave but just drive me up the wall with five well-intentioned questions a minute for four days straight that are really innocent but somehow make me feel inadequate or somehow like I’m impersonating an adult having them all in my house? “Where’s your mop? I just want to clean this little area of the kitchen.” “Do you have a rag, honey? There are dust bunnies under this server.” “I’m emptying the dishwasher. Where does this platter go?” “The trash is full; should I take it to the garage or the outside trash?” “Did you want to leave these dishes in the sink for some reason, or should I clean them?”
The more we think about the gathering ahead, the more we recall past family gatherings, and the more room there is for us to experience anxiety that the worst moments we’ve shared with our families will be repeated. Of course, telling ourselves not to think about these things is an exercise in futility. So, the question becomes: How can we dictate our internal narratives so that our anticipatory thoughts become affirming and reassuring rather than negative and potentially self-perpetuating? Well, there are a two main components to consider with this one. Read More…