3 Surprising Therapeutic Gleanings From Clark Griswold And Cousin Eddie.

The Christmas is season is upon us. For some people, the season began before the leftover food from Thanksgiving could even be finished. For others, the season started, roughly about December first.

No matter when you decided to begin your Christmas season, there is one aspect of the holiday that seems common for nearly everyone, traditions!!

Some of these traditions you probably love and can’t imagine Christmas without, while other traditions make you feel like you’re being dragged behind Santa’s sleigh from one house to the next. And then, there are those familiar traditions you just do because you’ve always done them.

One tradition that comes to my mind is watching the same ole Christmas movies year after year.

At the top of my families “must watch” lists is Christmas Vacation. We love getting together for the non stop laughs, but the best part about the Griswold family is seeing our own family dysfunction in it. We all have the “overly committed to Christmas Decorations” family member, and I’m sure you have someone in your family that you identify as Cousin Eddie.

Through the continuous belly laughs and that one annoying family member that feels a need to loudly quote every line of the movie to you, as if the Tv volume was off (looking at you mom), emerges, insightful, therapeutic relationship principles that can be gleaned from the Griswolds. I know. Who would have ever thought helpful therapeutic insights could be gleaned from the couch of the Griswolds.

Here are three insightful principles to consider as You enter the Christmas season.

1.) We all play various roles in our family

Think about the scene of Cousin Eddie’s grand arrival. While watching this part of the movie you probably noticed a feeling of dread accompany that old Ford Condor. This is a type of inter-relational shift that happens as you anticipate interacting with another person and while you actually interact. Think of the interactions as taking on certain parts.

For example, Clark mostly plays the roles of the happy, somewhat optimistic, humorous, husband and father. However, when Cousin Eddie shows up Clark takes on other roles such as, the mature, protective, cautious, and cynical one.

This Christmas you will probably play the role of a father, mother, daughter, son, cousin, and or multiple roles.

But there are other roles you play within your family that can be a bit more subtle. Perhaps, a part of you plays the role of the family clown, the comforter, the black sheep, the connector, the favorite, the successful one, ect…

You don’t always choose the roles you play; sometimes others nominate you, though majority of roles that are assigned, are done so unknowingly to you and them. However, the more SELF-Awareness you have in knowing who you truly are the more you will have the ability to opt out of undesirable roles and choose the roles that feel authentic.

2.) Be aware of your expectations

Clark’s sleigh of expectations of having the best Christmas ever with his family, was pulled by three main beliefs.

  1. He could make every part of Christmas perfect
  2. It was his job to do it
  3. He would be letting everyone down if he didn’t.

Clark’s ability to enjoy “the most wonderful time of the year” was mostly dependent on his “external world” going just as he expected. Clark’s only moment of real joy was when he let go of his expectations and found joy in just being with others. Well, he did come to that conclusion after he got his Christmas bonus reinstated…

3.) You can’t fix nor be responsible for another person or their problems…

Let’s be honest, you CAN do these things. You may even succeed, but you’d probably have a better Christmas if you didn’t.

When you become responsible for another person and try to fix their problems, you’ll react like Cousin Eddie…

You’ll take on the other person’s problem as your own, becoming the unsolicited hero by abducting the CEO. The net result is slapping a Christmas bow on the CEO and not on your beloved. Later you will be shocked that your insightful solutions and caring intentions weren’t well received.

Instead, practice taking responsibility FOR yourself. This will feel authentic and freeing because you’re providing for your needs and desires first. Then and only then, will you be able to be responsible TO another person and offer compassion and care as a genuine relative or friend.

Now…I’m sure we can all agree, Clark, Eddie, and the rest of the Griswold family meant well in their relationships amongst one another. And the truth is, you and I both, in relationships, mean well, most of time. Majority of the time we are all doing the best we know to do in the moment. That’s why it is vitally important to take just a bit of time now, to reflect and recognize your roles and expectations, in how you relate to yourself, others, and how others relate to you, which could lead to the best Christmas you’ve had yet. Seriously, Clark.


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