(Click the photo HERE to listen to the interview).
It's that time of year again. The holidays are upon us. Perhaps that fills you with a sense of joy.
Or possibly dread.
If you feel conflicted about the holidays, you're not alone.
Why are the holidays so difficult for so many people?
For one thing, we’re often saturated with media images of how it’s” supposed to be.” At this time of year, TV commercials and magazine ads start showing happy, loving, close families (and by the way, they’re usually white and well-off), all gathered over a table loaded with food, beaming and grateful for their wonderful lives.
If that’s your reality, consider yourself very lucky. But for many people, if not most, this is a fantasy world that’s not even close to reality.
If it seems as if everyone in the world is living a perfect Hallmark holiday life, full of peace, love and happiness - and then there’s YOUR family, that can be painful.
The contrast can be really difficult especially if you think the picture perfect image is how it’s supposed to be, and it’s just not.
That’s depressing for a lot of people, which leads to overeating as a way to numb or distract from the pain. Or, because these families are often shown eating, eating or overeating can be a way of “feeling” like you’re part of the picture perfect holiday family.
Reality is tough
Ever see the movie, Reality Bites? Reality is often painful and can never measure up to an image, fantasy or idea about how things "should" or "could" be.
These days, the term "reality" is associated with reality shows on TV. And lots of families include people that are right out of a reality show. There are certain types of characters that run in families:
Drunk relatives – either happy drunks or angry drunks; neither is fun.
Overly cheerful, aren’t-we-happy and isn’t-everything-perfect relatives that are usually living in denial of reality.
Jealous relatives – the ones who have a negative comment about everything you do or say.
Show-offs – they think they’re better than everyone else because they can outspend everyone else in the family
Then there are those who only talk about how great it used to be back in the day. They just can’t handle being in the present.
No matter what the issues are in families, it can sometimes be depressing or upsetting. That's when grieving is important, which means processing the limits of what you had and accepting what you will not experience. The process of mourning involves a range of emotions, from anger, sadness, disappointment, to acceptance.
When you allow yourself to think what you think during the holiday season, and feel what you feel, you will be less likely to need or use some form of distraction, such as food, to cope.