4 Steps to Decrease Emotional Vulnerability at the Holidays

emotional vulnerability at the holidaysThe holidays are a time of goodwill and cheer, but for many, they are also anniversaries of painful life events or trauma.  In advertisements we see happy people sharing good times, but when you’re not surrounded by loved ones, the holidays can be acute reminders of loneliness, disappointment, conflict and loss.

All of this can make the season a time when you are more likely to experience intense emotions.  If you don’t anticipate problems, intense emotion can send you off track and leave you escaping in unhealthy and problematic ways.

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Why Not Judge?

A central goal in DBT is to cultivate a non-judgmental stance towards our lives and ourselves.  However, when you experience intense emotions and have stress and significant obstacles in your life, it’s difficult to refrain from passing judgment.

Judgments are spontaneous and often inaccurate interpretations of our environment that influence our thinking and behavior.  Social psychology research shows that our motives and expectations slant our judgments.  When we are motivated to avoid painful emotions, we are likely to judge those who hurt us, conflict with us or remind us of our shortcomings.  Often we’ve internalized the judgments of others and save our harshest judgments for ourselves.  As a result, when we face an obstacle, don’t get our way or don’t succeed in our efforts, we are likely to attribute our problems to the personality defects of those around us and ourselves.  They are lazy and stupid.  We are incompetent, needy or a failure.  Continue reading “Why Not Judge?” »