How To Avoid Emotional Regression While Home For The Holidays

Not everyone will regress to their childhood or teenage roles, but those who have less differentiation are likely to. Differentiation refers to the ability to become your own person and separate from your family’s feelings and experiences, family therapist Jennie Marie Battistin, M.A., LMFT, tells mbg. 

Those who haven’t learned to set boundaries with their family members may be more likely to fall into old, potentially unhealthy patterns. (People-pleasers may be especially susceptible to this, she suggests.) 

“There may always be annoying behaviors within the family,” Battistin says, “but when an individual is resilient and self-aware, they are less likely to be disturbed and emotionally reactive to those annoyances.”

That said, even those who’ve learned to set boundaries and developed a sense of self may be victim to behavioral, social, or emotional regression, purely due to the changes in relational dynamics. 

“When we’re not with people on a regular ongoing basis, those dynamics are still under the surface,” social psychologist Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D., previously told mbg, “but because we’re not interacting often, we’re no longer aware of them.” In other words, the ways in which we used to engage with family members or old friends can begin to return if new, regular dynamics have not replaced them. 

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