Surviving family over the festive season
This year I decided to spend Christmas according to an underappreciated colleague of Freud’s.
That time is here again.
The whole family has come together to celebrate yet another year of avoiding each other's calls and forgetting birthdays by exchanging socks and mini toiletries and consuming enough food and alcohol for the entire population.
Naturally, after not seeing each other for most the year, everyone wants to have a lovely time together.
Everyone wants to have the perfect Christmas.
So, instead of saying how it really is and risking disaster, you all grit your teeth and try extra hard to get on superbly and have a pleasant and problem-free time.
But then, as it inevitably does, something goes wrong.
Someone makes a provocative comment.
The thing that happened last year is brought up.
An argument breaks out.
Yet again, Christmas is ruined.
In trying to make the festive season with our families as good as it can be, we play the game that everything is 100% hunkey dory.
There’s no problem with that.
But then, when that unwanted or uncomfortable thing does happen, as it always does, it tends to cause the whole world to come crashing down in a spectacular display of profanities, door-slamming, and gift receipts.
Rather than play the charade as I do most years, this time I’ve decided to do something different and use the festive season as an opportunity to put to the test a few ideas from a man named Alfred Adler.
Adler was an Austrian psychotherapist whose ideas, as he lived around the same time as Jung and Freud, have long been overlooked.
Adler believed that all our problems are social problems. According to him, everything from our feelings of inferiority and isolation to our misguided goals and our persistent dissatisfaction come down to how we relate to our family and one another.
Sounds about right.