Woman’s World: Why Do the Holidays Make Me So Irritable?


Navigating the Triggers of a Dysfunctional Family

Many sensitive, caring people need to take it slowly with family get-togethers as they can often feel too much from them. There may be more noise, drinking, and loud voices than they can tolerate.

Families are living organisms. The health and behavior of its members contribute to its overall wellness. In a healthy family, you learn to identify your needs and feelings; you receive consistent, loving messages from your parents; and your authenticity is valued. A dysfunctional family lacks clear boundaries. Shaming and blaming occur. One family member may become a scapegoat, communication is poor, and parents may be struggling with substance abuse or their own emotional distress or trauma.

If you come from a dysfunctional family, it’s wise to accept the limitations of each of the members and lower your expectations. Setting polite but clear boundaries with toxic behavior stops you from becoming a doormat. Also recognize how your relatives emotionally trigger you. Acknowledge that these emotional triggers can shine light on your wounds so you can heal them. Healing your triggers is liberating because you won’t be thrown off or drained by people’s inappropriate comments. They may still be annoying, but they won’t have the power to zap you. For instance, when someone criticizes your choices, see this as a chance to set healthy boundaries and examine the tender areas within where your self-esteem may be fragile. Or if someone throws you crumbs of love, it’s powerful to say, “I deserve so much more.”

Click HERE to learn 5 tips to help all sensitive souls take special care of themselves during the holidays.


Judith Orloff, MD is a New York Times bestselling author with the upcoming book The Genius of Empathy: Practical Skills to Heal Yourself, Your Relationships and the World (Foreword by the Dalai Lama). She has also written The Empath’s Survival Guide and Thriving as an Empath, which offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people. She integrates the pearls of conventional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, empathy, energy medicine, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice and online internationally. Her work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA, TEDx U.S. and TEDx Asia. More information about Dr. Orloff’s Empathy Training Programs for businesses, The Empath Survival Guide Online Course and speaking schedule at www.drjudithorloff.com.

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