Fear of the Holidays: Gateway to Major Life Transition?
Today, we’re increasingly aware that many people experience fear of the holidays. Might such fear be the gateway to a major life transition?
This might seem like a disconnected, even outrageous thought. Yet, might it be that examining the roots of “fear of the holidays” might teach us something important about ourselves, and our wants and needs?
Why might any of us experience fear of the holidays? Here are some possible reasons.
Family of Origin and Fear of the Holidays
Many people experience difficult, stressful encounters with members of their family of origin over the holiday period. For adults, these are often rooted in long standing issues and situations in the life of the family of origin. There may be issues that stem from addictions situations, or from physical, emotional or sexual abuse.
These long-standing situations can often have a very powerful impact on adult children. In not a few cases, experiencing such situations in the family of origin again at the holiday season can be the catalyst for real change. People may feel a real need to change the ways they are prepared to encounter family members, or, in some cases may even temporarily or permanently cease from contact. The decision to do so can constitute a major life transition.
Present Life Situation and Fear of the Holidays
Sometimes the holidays, and the amount of time spent with spouses, partners or other members of the family that a person currently lives in can bring about powerful confrontations with hard truths about where things actually stand in relationships, marriages and families. Individuals may dread the holidays, precisely because they can bring us up against the reality of relationship breakdown, due to more time being spent at home and the facts of where things actually stand in relationship are more apparent. Again, this may be a time when individuals decide to embark on major life transitions such as separation or divorce, and when the individual is strongly in need of the kind of clarity that comes through /a-midlife-transition work.
Confrontation with the Self, and Fear of the Holidays
Similarly, the holidays can result in time away from hyper-busy routines, allowing us to come into contact with ourselves in some surprising ways.
It can be very difficult to be alone with ourselves at times, but it may be a time when we start to uncover important aspects of who we are, and important truths about what we really want. Embarking on Jungian psychoanalysis can often help individuals to focus in a fruitful way upon these questions.
Major Life Transitions, and the Individuation Process
Along with other possible causes, any of the above — family of origin issues, our present life situation or a forthright confrontation with the self — may be the catalyst that leads us into a major life transition. The fear of the holidays that stems from these causes may contain the seeds of our renewal.
Human beings most often undergo a number of major life transitions in the course of a life time. These events often involve the definitive ending of one way of living, and a transition to another quite different orientation or way of life.
Sometimes an experience associated with the holidays, and with some aspect of fear of the holidays, may act as the catalyst that propels us into the midst of a major life transition. Depth case studies, especially of the Jungian variety, sees such transitions as a fundamental part of the individuation process. Individuation is the process by which an individual moves towards living and being in accord with their most fundamental identity. As Jungian Analyst Warren Colman tells us, “The self is the goal towards which the process of individuation strives.” This is the fundamental core of the journey to wholeness that is the heart of /a-midlife-transition.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Psychoanalyst