Brenda’s sitting on the couch in my Yurt. She looks tired as she explains what she’s looking for:
“In the past, when the children were young and my parents were still alive, I always looked forward to the holidays. I always felt into it. I’m a bit embarrassed to be saying this, but I’m happy that the holidays are over. I really want to know where that nasty feeling is coming from. Is it the crowds? Too much unhealthy food and drink? How can I stop myself from feeling like this again during the next holidays? ”

Social hangover

The moment you read this and think: “I feel that too …” – you’re not alone. There are many people who experience these feelings and don’t know what to do about them. Because the holidays should be fun and cosy, and if that doesn’t work, it feels like that’s our fault and we should make it better. We’re even ashamed that we’re not looking forward to the following holidays, as is usual in the media – which we see and hear all around .

Being cosy during the holidays

If we look at holidays from the point of view of a coach or therapist, it’s not surprising that lots of people have trouble with them. Bringing together family members inevitably means that you have to again conform to how it used to be. We usually behave, unconsciously, just as we used to, in order to fit into the old family structure. We want to make it nice for each other. And there is nothing wrong with that!

In the undercurrent

The way that original family communicates isn’t necessarily the best way to communicate today. As a child Brenda had to adapt and choose the survival mechanisms that worked well for her. Everyone has made choices while growing up in order to make the best of it during their childhood, in order to feel accepted and that you belong. Often this meant that we stop saying what we really feel and what we really need.
Brenda gets an uncomfortable feeling during the holidays because she adapts to what’s expected of her in her communication with her family members. She stops saying what she truly feels and needs. Just like in the past, she still doesn’t dare to say it. This is a denial of the choices she’s made as an adult.
It is often the case that when a family of adults sits round the table at Christmas, they all unconsciously reassert these old dynamics. From the outside it looks very cosy, but there is an undercurrent that’s not so cosy. It’s tiring. Not communicating openly and honestly requires a lot of energy.

Non-verbal communication

A very large part of our communication is non-verbal. The little silence that falls when the conversation touches on a subject that’s sensitive, a raised eyebrow, a sigh … We all have examples. It’s precisely these small examples of non-verbal communication that have a very big impact. Everyone sees it. It becomes tiring when it is not spoken about. We then do our very best to not pay too much attention to it and that costs us a lot of energy.
In coaching and therapy non-verbal communication is often linked to beliefs, emotions, images and behaviour. This helps a client like Brenda to understand how family dynamics work and why she reacts as she does. Yet, often, it’s not enough to leave it at that. Even though Brenda knows how it works, she still gets that annoying feeling during the holidays. This is because she not only has a psychic memory of her youth, but also a physical one. Her body remembers how it used to be, and reacts the same way, even though she knows in her head that the situation is different now.

Embodied Coaching & Therapy

Brenda links this physical reaction to understandable causes, such as crowds or overeating, while these reactions actually have a completely different basis. The body has developed these patterns at an early stage. I wrote this blog at the end of last year: Are you ok, madam?
It’s difficult as a coach or therapist to help a client with the non-verbal part of their problem if you can only make a mental link (convictions, emotions, images and behaviour). The great thing about Embodied Coaching & Therapy is that all those possibilities that are left behind with the mental method are now reachable. It is a new tool in your toolbox, with which you can help clients to ensure that they don’t get so stressed or lose energy in that unspoken undercurrent.

Did this blog appeal to you? The Embodied Coaching & Therapy programme might be something you could use.

You are welcome.

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Linda Hoeben
+32 474 920 877
Rommersom 1A, 3320 Hoegaarden