Why Spending Time With Family Can Feel So Challenging (And What To Do About It)

As my husband, two kids, and I were driving to our hometown this past Thanksgiving weekend, I found myself asking, "Why is it often so stressful for so many of us to spend time with our families?"

I've asked that question many times before, but this time the answer that came to me seemed simple.

Triggers.

Of course. It all comes down to triggers. You see, left to it's own device, our nervous system functions based on what triggers us in our environment. And because our nervous system develops within the context of our family system, the opportunities are extremely ripe for our triggers to get tripped much more often--and to the core--within the context of our family than in any other environment. These are the relationships in which our triggers were created and established, so it only makes sense that we will be set off more when we spend time here.

Another reason why spending time with family can feel so challenging is that just as with individuals--in relationships, and in...

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