The holiday season is upon us. Do you greet it with trepidation? Festivities bring us together with family. Are you dreading that experience because you have to act as if everything is peachy when it isn't because you are really having an awful time and can't wait to find an excuse to leave? In psychology we call that pseudo-mutuality. Pseudo means false. In other words, the smile on your face is hiding your true feelings of unhappiness, anger or boredom.

Most likely you just grin and bear it year after year. If you are telling yourself that you have to show up or your family will be hurt or you hate being around people who do nothing but complain or get drunk or you are tired of making small talk, is there anything you can do to change these rituals? Probably not, but you can change your own actions and attitudes.

Jane and Tom hated the holiday fuss and having to be with people they wouldn't choose to befriend if they weren't relatives, so they used a rapid self-help technique called EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to deal with their situation. EFT is simply acupressure. They began by focusing on the problem: we don't want to be with these people and don't know how to get out of if without hurting their feelings. As they put their attention to this thought they gently tapped along the outer edge of the hand under the little finger.

Next, using the index and middle fingers, they tapped each of these points for 3 seconds: on the eyebrow near the nose, the outside edge of the eye socket, under the eye, under the nose, under the lower lip, under the collarbone, and on the side of the body 4 inches under the armpit. At each point they stayed in touch with not wanting to be at the gatherings and feeling trapped. After the first round they continued for two more rounds while they admitted that they felt unhappy and stuck with the holiday ritual.

When they finished tapping they discussed any feelings, thoughts or memories that came to mind about this issue. Jane recalled how her uncles used to get so drunk that they got into fights. Tom realized that he was no longer a child that had to obey mom's expectations. He was 34 years old and was entitled to do what he wanted with his holidays. Jane and Tom tapped a few more rounds still feeling unsure of the solution. After a short time they both decided that the best way to deal with pseudo-mutuality was to leave town. They made reservations at a resort and let everyone know that they were not going to be at the holiday party.

Another holiday pitfall has to do with all the festivities and invitations to parties and dinners where food is not just delicious but plentiful too. Did you know that just half a cup of eggnog has 230 calories? OMG! Use EFT to deal with fears of overeating as well as feelings of obligation to attend some of these.

If you do decide to go to a specific party, use EFT before the gathering while you think about all the pitfalls: too much food to choose from, delicious high calorie specialties that you only get once a year, eating to please the hostess, family anxiety when you are all together, etc. You may choose to use EFT a few times a day starting a week before the event to make sure that you are ready to have a great time and not wake up with a feeling of disappointment and an upset stomach.

One of my clients was distressed when she arrived at a Christmas party to find her ex-husband and his new girlfriend. She had no new romantic interest, and seeing the lovebirds bothered her so much that she wanted to eat her way down the buffet table non-stop. Instead, she went into the rest room and gave herself a successful EFT treatment to come to terms with her negative feelings. Afterward, she felt calm and was able to have a good time without pigging out.

EFT can help you get through any social challenge throughout the year where you will experience pseudo-mutuality. These include holiday feasts, weddings, barbecues, birthdays, and business events.

Author's Bio: 

Gloria Arenson is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Diplomate in Comprehensive Energy Psychology. She is passionate about helping people help themselves be free of negative emotions and compulsive behaviors such as overeating, spending, internet addiction and procrastination using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques). Her unique visualization method called The Phoenix Effect Process repairs difficult relationships effortlessly.

Gloria is the author of the award winning Five Simple Steps to Emotional Healing, Desserts Is Stressed Spelled Backwards, How to Stop Playing the Weighting Game, Born to Spend, Freedom At Your Fingertips, and EFT For Procrastination. She is past president of ACEP, the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology and is in private practice in Southern California.

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