Christmas Triggers Powerful Emotions

During the holiday season and Christmas, expectations and emotions tend to run high. Get- togethers with family can provoke powerful emotional triggers due to the history and relationship patterns we have developed with these people.

Emotional triggers are situations and stimuli (people, sounds, smell, touch, images, taste, etc) which stir you up and get you quickly into over-reaction mode or “push your buttons” . These everyday situations can create emotionally charged responses from within that seem to appear from nowhere. The sudden rush of feelings—whether it is anger, sadness, or shame seems to overtake you and can leave you feeling emotionally hijacked.

When “emotional buttons are pushed” it is common for people to react with a great deal of emotion. The most immediate reaction often translates into anger. Anger is a great defense mechanism to mask pain and to attempt to regain control over a situation which may be perceived as threatening. Unfortunately, while covering our pain, anger often creates havoc in our behavior, mood and relationships, without providing the relief we are seeking. Anger often leaves us feeling more alone and isolated.

When I work with individuals for whom Christmas or other interpersonal situations trigger powerful emotions, we explore the origin of the triggers, the meaning they gave to the event/stimuli and the emotions that were triggered. Gaining insight into one’s triggers helps the individual diffuse the emotions related to them and allows the creation of new responses for the next time they find themselves in similar situations.

Counseling assists individuals to examine the impact of past and current life experiences on their belief systems, sense of self-worth and interpersonal relationships. The goal of counseling is to assist people to develop inner strength, overcome past hurts and acquire tools to face every day life with ease.